The French Swimming Federation has named Lionel Horter as the new technical director this week, as he’ll leave his post as the head coach of Mullhouse Olympic Natation.
The 47-year old Horter will have big shoes to fill in place of Christian Donze, who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on October 21st from a heart attack while mountain biking. During his four-year tenure, Donze led French Swimming from a country with a small, elite group to a country with exploding international-level depth and their best-ever Olympic performance in 2012.
Horter’s successes followed those of Donze; when Donze took over the role of Technical Director in 2009, Horter was given the additional duties of coordinating the National Team coaches for Olympic and World Championship squads.
Unlike Donze, Horter comes mostly from a background of coaching, whereas Donze had spent a significant amount of time in regional and national administration roles before taking over as the Technical Director for the 5 aquatics disciplines. Among Horter’s best-known charges as swimmers are Amaury Leveaux and Sebastian Rouault. Leaveaux has a total of 4 Olympic medals, including as a member of France’s gold medal winning 400 free relay in London; Rouault is credited with 32 French National Titles and swam collegiately for Georgia. He also briefly worked with Laure Manaudou in 2008.
He also coached for a time 2000 Olympic silver medalist and former World Champion Roxana Maracineau, who specialized in the backstrokes: one of the strongest events in the modern French team.
Interestingly, Horter, who is a former 14-time National Champion of France, is personally sponsored by TYR, just as is the French federation. France is one of the last major countries where TYR has a strong swimming foothold; their 4 remaining pool federations are France, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland.