Superstar swimmer Leon Marchand suffers ‘blurred vision’ ahead of bizarre Olympic double

Leon Marchand will go for an unsual double in Paris  (REUTERS)
Leon Marchand will go for an unsual double in Paris (REUTERS)

Five-time world swimming champion Leon Marchand is gearing up for the Olympics in style, having completed an impressive 200m butterfly and breaststroke double at the French trials on the same day – a feat he hopes to achieve at Paris 2024 this summer.

The 22-year-old Marchand, who is based in the US, made light work of jet lag and the competition to swim the 200m butterfly final in 1:54.08 – the fourth-best performance of the season.

Less than an hour later, he prevailed in the 200m breaststroke final in 2:08.95 – 0.55 seconds off his best time this season. Those performances mean he will be able to race both events at Paris 2024.

“I’ve always liked back-to-back races in intense competitions,” said Marchand, who has been training under the guidance of Bob Bowman in the US and has 10 NCAA gold medals to his name. I recuperate quite quickly, I love this.”

At the Paris Games, the heats and semi-finals for both races will be on 30 July, with the finals scheduled for the next day.

While Marchand easily beat his rivals in Chartres on Wednesday, some improvements will be needed if he is to become the first swimmer to achieve the 200m breaststroke/butterfly double at the Olympics.

“Some adjustments need to be made, we have to be careful,” Marchand’s French coach Nicolas Castel told sports daily L’Equipe.

Leon Marchand suffered blurred vision between races (REUTERS)
Leon Marchand suffered blurred vision between races (REUTERS)

“My vision was blurred (between the two races),” said Marchand, who also holds the 400m medley world record. “It’s like I was under anaesthesia, kind of sleepy. I should have eaten something.”

No swimmer has even managed to win a medal in butterfly and breaststroke at the Olympics. The one who came closest was American Mary Sears, who in 1956 was bronze medallist in the women’s 100m butterfly and finished seventh in the 200m breaststroke final.

“There are not many people who try this double. It’s a bit weird, but I like weird,” said Marchand, who will be looking to claim a fourth gold at the French trials in the 200m medley, having already taken the title in the 400m medley.