French National Record holder, and one of the fastest backstrokers in history, Camille Lacourt will make his return to competition at this weekend’s (25m) Indian Ocean International Meet on the tiny island of Reunion – a French island that lies off the coast of Madagascar in – you guessed it – the Indian Ocean.
This meet is mostly for the local swimmers of Reunion (population 839,500) and their nearby neighbors of Mauritius, but the competition never fails to turn up big international names and some spectacular swims (in 2008, the French women’s National Record in the short course 200 breaststroke was set there in 2:21.55).
Lacourt will be among the biggest names on this year’s schedule, making his post-Olympic debut. He has battled different injuries throughout his career, and hopefully the 5-months off since London has given him some time to heal. This weekend, he’ll swim a light schedule of the 50 back, 100 back, and 50 fly for the meet that runs from Friday until Sunday.
He won’t be alone, though. German World Record holders Paul Biedermann and Britta Steffen, a couple outside of the water and a formidable pair inside it as well, are also traveling for the event. The two combined for 4 medals at the recent Short Course World Championships – 2 gold, 1 silver, and 1 bronze.
Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu, formerly of USC fame, seems to quite literally be showing up at every meet this fall and into the winter (outside of the United States, anyway), and she’ll be here as well. And, would you expect anything less from Hosszu than full participation? On the first day alone, with a prelims session scheduled to run just under two hours, Hosszu is entered in: the 200 free, 50 back, 100 fly, and 200 backstroke, plus a timed-final swim in the 400 IM that evening. Fortunately for her body, the finals timeline is a bit more spaced out, so she might survive the weekend. Not that her schedule gets any easier from there.
Hosszu should have some great head-to-heads with Dutch sprinter Inge Dekker, as they will match up in at least the 50 and 100 fly as well as the 100 IM.
On the men’s side, Biedermann and Lacourt are the big names, though there are a few other solid swimmers participating (including some lesser-known Marseilles teammates of Lacourt).
Other mainland Frenchers making this trip worth watching include 15-year old Cloe Hache. She’s only 15 and is already going a 55.7 in short course in the 100 free (and a 56.9 in long course).