Olympics-Fast and furious Marchand gears up for bizarre Paris 2024 double


FILE PHOTO: Fukuoka 2023 World Aquatics Championships - Swimming - Marine Messe Fukuoka Hall A, Fukuoka, Japan - July 30, 2023 France's Leon Marchand in action during the men's 4 x 100m medley relay final REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - Five-times world champion Leon Marchand is gearing up for the Olympics in style, having completed an impressive 200 metres butterfly and breaststroke double at the French trials on the same day - a feat he hopes to achieve in Paris this summer.

The 22-year-old Marchand, who is based in the U.S., made light work of jet lag and the competition to swim the 200m butterfly final in one minute 54.08 seconds - the fourth best performance of the season.

Less than an hour later, he prevailed in the 200m breaststroke final in two minutes 08.95, 0.55 seconds off his best time this season.

Both 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 U.S. 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 July 30, 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.

"My vision was blurred (between the two races)," said Marchand, who 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.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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