Léon Marchand during the French championships in Rennes, April 16, 2019. -

Damien Meyer / AFP

  • European and world junior medalist, Léon Marchand (18) has already been crowned among the seniors during the 2019 French championships.

  • In Saint-Raphaël, from Thursday to Sunday, the young Toulousain will line up for four events, in butterfly and medley.

  • Son and nephew of Olympic swimmers, Marchand is aiming for the Tokyo Olympics, before going to train in the United States with Bob Bowman, the former coach of Michael Phelps.

Despite the Covid-19, the French swimming championships will take place from Thursday to Sunday in Saint-Raphaël, in the Var.

With a view of the European Championships in May 2021 in Budapest, and especially the Tokyo Olympics (July 23 to August 8, 2021).

The very young Toulousain Léon Marchand (18 years old) will line up for four events (100 and 200 m butterfly, 200 and 400 m medley) with a huge appetite, for this Var weekend as well as for the rest.

Barely of age but so promising

For the member of the Dauphins du Toec, 2019 will have been very busy, with his first senior national coronation at the “France” in Rennes (200 m butterfly), two bronze medals at the European junior championships in Kazan (200 m breaststroke and 400 m medley) then another bronze at the World Junior Championships in Budapest (400 m medley, French senior record in support in 4: 16.37).

Then, the Covid-19 upset 2020. “There was indeed a competition a month ago in Toulouse, but we were not necessarily in good shape.

I'm going to Saint-Raphaël to have fun, to see if the training has paid off and if I can get closer to qualifying times.

The French swimmers have until March 21 to achieve a time equivalent to an Olympic final and thus stamp their ticket for Tokyo.

Otherwise, they will be able to treat themselves to a sesame for the Olympics during the French championships in Chartres, from June 15 to 20.

Léon Marchand on the podium after his title of French champion in the 200m butterfly, on April 18, 2019 in Rennes.

- Damien Meyer / AFP

" My objective ?

To be Olympic champion, asserts Léon Marchand.

Whether in Tokyo, Paris [2024] or Los Angeles [2028].

This is the main long term goal.


A child of the yawns

Swimming at the Olympics will not be new in the family.

His uncle Christophe Marchand (freestyle and medley) took part in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and then in Barcelona in 1992, which also included his mother Céline Bonnet, a backstroke and medley specialist.

His father Xavier, vice-world champion in the 200m medley in 1998, followed with the Atlanta and Sydney Games in 1996 and 2000.

Difficult to escape his fate, even if "my parents did not push me at all," promises Leon.

“I've always been in the industry, we like it, it's our passion, we talk about it often.

»Additional pressure or advantage?

“I think it's easier for me.

They give me lots of advice and they share their experiences.


If he started at the age of seven in his parents' club, on the Ile du Ramier, a stone's throw from his home, Léon dabbled in judo and rugby before taking the plunge for good.

“I started to really enjoy swimming around 10 years old.

At 12 years old, it intensified, with flexible hours.

Then the results followed.


Love of versatility

In addition to his senior national record in the 400m medley, Léon Marchand collects the best French performances in the youth categories.

“I think that the races on which I have the most chances are the 400m medley and the 200m butterfly but we will have to see over the years, indicates the ultra-versatile, who defines himself as an average template [ 1.85 m, 68 kg].

I like to vary.

When you're not good with a swim in training, you can change.


It is therefore out of the question to favor one race over another.

Nor to let himself be overwhelmed by the weight of the expectations weighing on him.

“At first, it was hard to manage,” he admits.

In 2019, I went from nothing to everything.

I arrived at "France", I qualified for the "World" juniors, where I won a medal.

There has been a good performance escalation.

At the start of 2020, it all made me a little weird but I learned to deal with it.

I have to trust myself, that I am more focused on myself than on the expectations of others.


American future

The announcement he made in September on social networks created a stir in the small world of pools.

After the Tokyo Games next summer, Léon Marchand will join Arizona State University and his coach Bob Bowman, former mentor to legend Michael Phelps.

“I have to stay there for four years, plus an additional year if I'm doing a Masters.

I don't know exactly what I'm going to study yet, but it will be more in computer engineering.


Then again, his parents, who swam in Auburn, Alabama during their career, gave their son some tips.

“The goal will be to prepare for the Paris Games in 2023, but I will be able to compete in university competitions with the best Americans.


🏊‍♂️ EYES ON PARIS 2024 🏊‍♂️

Why is @leon_marchand committed to @ASUSwimDive?

1. A direct mail from Bob Bowman.

2. Advice from Yannick Agnel and Clément Lefert.

3. The ambition to swim against the best prospects.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW ▶ ️ https://t.co/tzj5XYPS4I #Swimming pic.twitter.com/9Lnfp0T52x

- #MidMajors (@MidnightCampus) October 19, 2020

Until then, the current protégé of trainer Nicolas Castel at Les Dauphins continues his weekly Toulouse routine: computer lessons at Paul-Sabatier university, 25 hours in the water, two bodybuilding sessions with a physical trainer plus another weightlifting.

A discipline of convict, in a sport where only the cadors manage to live very well from their passion.

“I don't swim to earn money, otherwise I would have stopped, jokes Léon Marchand.

But things are happening for the best, like the ISL [International Swimming League] in which I would like to participate.



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