French swimmers will meet in the Otopeni swimming pool, from Tuesday to Sunday, to prepare for the Paris Olympic Games.
To refine its Olympic preparation, French swimming is facing the continental elite at the European Short Course Swimming Championships, from Tuesday to Sunday in Otopeni (Romania).
In order to get on the Romanian podiums, the Blues will not be able to count on their locomotive Léon Marchand, who favors competitions in the United States where he trains. But the French collective will be able to rely, among others, on its big names Maxime Grousset and Florent Manaudou, who will enjoy the trip to the suburbs of Bucharest. Less than eight months before the Paris Games, the competition should allow the Blues to continue their races against tough European competition, from the Romanian David Popovici, to the Italian Benedetta Pilato or the British Tom Dean.
Even if the distance is not Olympic, the 25m pool events are valuable for working on the purely technical parts of the races such as starts, turns or flows. “We must continue to develop these skills, and swimming at a high level is important,” said Jacco Verhaeren, the director of the blue delegation. “When we look at Léon Marchand (who excels in this area, Editor’s note), we see how important underwater qualities are. So it’s a good thing to compete in short course.”
Grousset savors the “beautiful duels” with Manaudou
Awarded witha first long course world champion title last summer in Fukuoka (Japan), Maxime Grousset, 24, has already had great success this season in short course, winning five titles and a silver medal at the French Championships at the end of October in Angers.
In Romania, the New Caledonian will be on all fronts as he will compete in six individual races (50m and 100m butterfly, 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle as well as the 100m medley). In the 50m freestyle, he will once again be able to compete against his favorite rival, Florent Manaudou, whom he beat by a hundredth in the final of the French Championships.
“We have great duels every time. Luckily he’s here!”appreciates Maxime Grousset. “With Florent, we look at each other before the race, we increase the pressure and it’s really nice.”
Manaudou, who has set himself the goal of “bringing back a medal” from Otopeni, wants to end the year in style before turning entirely to the Olympics, undoubtedly the last of his long career. “From January, the real Olympic preparation begins, there will be +2024+ written on the calendar so it will be different”declares the 33-year-old swimmer.
Popovici, star at home
In Romania, Manaudou and Grousset are the leaders of a French delegation of 19 swimmers, notably composed of Charlotte Bonnet, Mewen Tomac, Pauline Mahieu and Anastasiia Kirpichnikova.
The Blues will face a tough field with several world champions including the Ukrainian Mykhailo Romanchuk and the Italian Thomas Ceccon. But the attraction of the week should be the Romanian David Popovici who will play at home.
After landing like a cannonball on the international scene in 2022, the long course 100m freestyle world record holder experienced a slump last summer. During the Fukuoka Worlds, he was only able to take sixth place in the main race and failed to reach the podium in the 200m.
Philosopher as usual, the 19-year-old prodigy, however, put this failure into perspective. “It’s been a busy year, with ups and downs, but I’m very motivated,” he said recently in an interview with the European Federation. “I prefer to be an athlete who learns from his defeats so that I can become a more complete athlete and therefore a more complete human being.”
The French engaged in Romania:
Women: Charlotte Bonnet, Béryl Gastaldello, Lara Grangeon, Anastasiia Kirpichnikova, Pauline Mahieu, Mary-Ambre Moluh, Analia Pigrée, Lucille Tessariol, Emma Terebo
Men: David Aubry, Pacôme Bricout, Roman Fuchs, Maxime Grousset, Stanislas Huille, Damien Joly, Florent Manaudou, Emilien Mattenet, Yohann Ndoye-Brouard, Mewen Tomac