2023 French Championships: Day 5 Finals Live Recap


The penultimate night from the French Elite Championships in Rennes will be short and sweet—just five finals on the slate, though some of France’s best will be in action.

Leon Marchand headlines the session once again as he takes on the 400 IM, the event in which he stunningly took a run at Michael Phelps‘ 2008 world record at last summer’s World Championships, producing the second-fastest time in history at 4:04.28.

Marchand had an incredible performance in the 200 breaststroke early in the meet, smashing the French Record in 2:06.59, and then after a strong showing in the 200 free, has done enough to win easily and qualify for Worlds in the 200 fly and 200 IM, but nowhere near his best times.

Given that, expecting him to challenge his 4:04 mark from Budapest tonight seems a bit far-fetched—especially with coach Bob Bowman saying he hasn’t shaved and is “50 percent prepared”—but he’ll likely be hunting down his world-leading 4:07.80 from April.

Another must-see event tonight is the men’s 50 free, with 32-year-old Florent Manaudou having put up his fastest time since the Tokyo Olympics in the prelims at 21.56, landing him the top spot in the world rankings this season.

Manaudou, who also had a sizzling swim in the 100 free prelims (48.12) before scratching the final, will be joined in the final by Maxime Grousset, who was the World Championship bronze medalist last year and owns a best time of 21.57.

Another reigning Worlds medalist to watch tonight will be Melanie Henique, the silver medalist last summer in the women’s 50 fly who took the top seed by more than a second this morning in 25.68.

Emma Terebo set a new best of 2:09.49 this morning in the 200 back, putting her in position to qualify for Fukuoka, while Russian native Anastasiia Kirpichnikova, who recently attained French citizenship, headlines the women’s 800 free to close out the night.


  • French Record: 2:06.64, Laure Manaudou – 2008
  • French Qualifying Time for Fukuoka: 2:11.04
  1. Emma Terebo, 2:09.35
  2. Pauline Mahieu, 2:11.09
  3. Bertille Cousson, 2:11.21
  4. Aela Janvier, 2:13.14
  5. Nina Kost, 2:14.12
  6. Manon Domingeon, 2:14.46
  7. Anais Podevin, 2:14.92
  8. Lou-Anne Gution, 2:15.72

Emma Terebo led from the get-go en route to winning the women’s 200 backstroke decisively in a time of 2:09.35, her second consecutive PB in the event.

Terebo, 24, came into the meet with a best time of 2:11.16, and got down to 2:09.49 in the prelims before chopping off 14 more hundredths in the final.

She qualifies for the World Championships for the second straight year, having placed fifth in the 100 back and 12th in the 200 back last summer in Budapest.

Terebo now ranks 15th in the world this season and is tied for the third-fastest ever among French women.

Pauline Mahieu was up with Terebo through the first 100 and managed to hold off Bertille Cousson down the stretch to take second in 2:11.09, falling five one-hundredths short of the World Championship qualifying time.

Mahieu swam a personal best of 2:10.41 in March.

Cousson was third in 2:11.21, lowering her best time of 2:11.52 from 2021, while Canadian Aela Janvier took fourth in 2:13.14.


  • French Record: 4:04.28, Leon Marchand – 2022
  • French Qualifying Time for Fukuoka: 4:13.76
  1. Leon Marchand, 4:10.57
  2. Emilien Mattenet, 4:16.28
  3. Antoine Marc, 4:21.56
  4. Jaouad Syoud, 4:21.89
  5. Tomy Remy, 4:22.37
  6. Leo Gruart, 4:28.41
  7. Jacques Saletes, 4:29.21
  8. Jules Duthu, 4:34.08

Leon Marchand was in full control of the men’s 400 IM final, cruising to a near six-second victory in a time of 4:10.57.

Marchand’s time falls well short of his season-best of 4:07.80 set at the Westmont Pro Swim in April, but does give him five straight wins at the championships and qualifies him for Worlds in his primary event.

Compared to his splits from April, the 21-year-old world champion had near-identical splits on fly and free, but was one second off on back and more than one and a half on breast.

Split Comparison

Marchand, 2023 PSS Westmont Marchand, 2023 French Championships
56.46 56.54
1:03.46 1:04.48
1:08.53 1:10.18
59.35 59.37
4:07.80 4:10.57

Tonight’s performance stands up as the seventh-fastest of Marchand’s career, trailing what he went at the 2021 Olympic Trials two years ago to the day (4:09.65).

Emilien Mattenet was locked into second for the entirety of the race, putting up the field’s fastest freestyle split (58.79) to finish as the runner-up in 4:16.28, just shy of his lifetime best 4:15.69 set in December 2021.

Antoine Marc rounded out the podium in 4:21.56, running down Algerian Jaouad Syoud (4:21.89) on the last 50.


  • French Record: 25.17, Melanie Henique – 2021
  • French Qualifying Time for Fukuoka: 25.75
  1. Melanie Henique, 25.24
  2. Marie Wattel, 26.07
  3. Analia Pigree, 26.86
  4. Emma Morel, 26.92
  5. Mary-Ambre Moluh, 26.93
  6. Maty Ndoye-Brouard, 26.98
  7. Lili-Rose Berthelot, 27.14
  8. Oumy Diop, 27.59

Melanie Henique blasted her way to a monstrous victory in the women’s 50 fly, tying the second-fastest swim of her career in 25.24 to add another event to her World Championship lineup.

Henique, the 2022 World Championship silver medalist in the event, jumps up to second in the world rankings with her performance, coming within seven one-hundredths of her French Record (25.17) set in 2021.

2022-2023 LCM Women 50 Fly

2 Yufei
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Only four women in history have ever been faster than Henique’s time from tonight (not including herself): Sarah Sjostrom (24.43), Therese Alshammar (25.07), Rikako Ikee (25.11) and Francesca Halsall (25.20).

Placing second was 100 free and 100 fly champion Marie Wattel, who clocked 26.07 to sneak into the top 25 in the world this season.

Wattel owns a personal best of 25.33 from the 2022 European Championships where she won silver behind Sjostrom.

Backstroke specialist Analia Pigree rounded out the podium in third at 26.86, narrowly missing her PB of 26.68 as she out-touched Emma MorelMary-Ambre Moluh and Maty Ndoye-Brouard.


  • French Record: 20.94, Frederick Bousquet – 2009
  • French Qualifying Time for Fukuoka: 22.07
  1. Florent Manaudou, 21.62
  2. Maxime Grousset, 21.78
  3. Mikel Schreuders, 22.04
  4. Guillaume Guth, 22.32
  5. Pierre Lebois, 22.33
  6. Nikita Baez, 22.41
  7. Charles Rihoux, 22.47
  8. Thomas Piron, 22.82

Florent Manaudou showed this morning’s effort was no fluke in the final of the men’s 50 free, powering his way to a time of 21.62 to claim the French title over Maxime Grousset.

Manaudou used his explosive start and breakout to earn an early advantage over the field and managed to fend off Grousset over the closing meters, picking up the win and coming within six one-hundredths of his swim from the heats (21.56), which was his fastest showing since the Tokyo Olympics and ranks him #1 in the world.

Grousset, the 2022 World Championship bronze medalist in the event, fired off his fastest time since last summer in 21.78 to qualify for Fukuoka in the event, cracking the top five in the world rankings in the process.

2022-2023 LCM Men 50 Free

View Top 26»

Mikel Schreuders smashed his own Aruban National Record to take third in 22.04, undercutting the previous mark of 22.37 set last October, while Guillaume Guth set a PB of his own in 22.32 to take fourth.


  • French Record: 8:18.80, Laure Manaudou – 2006
  • French Qualifying Time for Fukuoka: 8:29.24
  1. Anastasiia Kirpichnikova, 8:27.52
  2. Anna Egorova, 8:34.30
  3. Lisa Pou, 8:40.02
  4. Valentine Leclercq, 8:40.18
  5. Alisia Tettamanzi, 8:48.43
  6. Ines Delacroix, 8:50.98
  7. Liberty-Belle Horter, 8:51.80
  8. Clemence Coccordano, 8:52.15

Anastasiia Kirpichnikova completed the women’s distance treble with a sizeable victory in the 800 freestyle, getting under the Worlds qualifying time in 8:27.52.

Kirpichnikova was two seconds up on Russia’s Anna Egorova, at the halfway mark, 4:12.71 to 4:14.77, but really pulled away on the back end, splitting 4:14.81 coming home to touch first by nearly seven seconds.

Kirpichnikova dips under her season-best of 8:27.98 set in March, and now ranks 15th in the world this season. The 22-year-old owns a lifetime best of 8:18.77, set at the Tokyo Olympic Games while representing the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).

Kirpichnikova has recently attained French sporting citizenship, while Egorova still represents Russia internationally. She placed a distant second in 8:34.30 and has been as fast as 8:31.72 this year.

France’s Lisa Pou dropped more than 10 seconds to place third in 8:40.02, winning a razor-thin battle with youngster Valentine Leclercq (8:40.18) on the last 50.

Leclercq, 18, knocks three seconds off her previous best time of 8:43.39, set at the 2022 European Junior Championships where she finished fourth.

Alisia Tettamanzi was the fastest swimmer out of the early heats in 8:48.43, which stood up as the fifth-fastest overall.

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DC in Nova
8 months ago

The debate about GOAT starts and stops with 2 names: Phelps and Ledecky. Look up their OLY medals, records and WRs.

Marchand is an amazing talent He has done incredible things. But I’m fairness, he is still “behind” several swimmers in the GOAT discussion including, in no particular order, Spitz, Biondi, Dressel, Popov, Thorpe.

If Marchand wins 4 individual golds in Paris, he will tie a few swimmers including Spitz and Popov. His path to that is hard to see, but…. 5 individual wins gets him to Egerszegi…. 6 to Ledecky, who may add to that total. That would still leave Leon less than halfway to MP’s 13!

Probably best to refrain from GOAT discussions wrt swimming unless and… Read more »

Viking Steve
8 months ago

Chill-ax everyone…. he literally coasted through Breast and we know from the 200 he is tracking well on that stroke…. he is going to be juuuuuuust fine at WC.

This was part of the long term plan… no need to go fast at this meet AND serves to slightly reduce expectations/pressure heading into worlds.

8 months ago

Got more than a few down votes when I suggested Marchand was going to be about where he was all season and would save it for worlds. Other than he 2 breast, I think Bob’s interview and the rest of Marchand’s results had me spot on. He’s going to be sicko in a month.

Alex Wilson
8 months ago

Re. Leon Marchand: Does anyone know if anyone has entered five events at a national championship level in France or any other major swimming country and won all five events in the same championship?

Reply to  Alex Wilson
8 months ago

Did Phelps not win the 200 free, 200 fly, 2/4IM, and 100 fly at trials 8 in 08?

Reply to  Yabo
8 months ago

I don’t know how Australia did their championships/selections back in 1972, but given that Shane Gould was the WR holder in the 100-800 freestyles and 200 IM and went on to medal in all five of those events, I assume she would have.

Reply to  Yabo
8 months ago

yeah, he also would’ve tied for 1st in the 100 free had he not scratched and replicated his results from prelims, although Weber-Hale who won finals went 0.14 faster than Phelps in prelims. He also held US Open records in both the 100 and 200 back but did not swim those

Reply to  jeff
8 months ago

And given how strong his performance was in the 200 free and 400 IM, it’s likely he could have won the 400 free as well.

DC in Nova
Reply to  Yabo
8 months ago

Yes he did. And Katie Hoff won 5 individual golds at 08 US OLY trials as well. 200/400/800 free. 200/400 IM.
Pretty amazing!

Reply to  Yabo
8 months ago

He won all of those AND the 200 backstroke at the US trials so he won 6 individual spots and all three relays (if it had been now, he might have swam on 5 relays) He gave up this spot that went to Lochte.

Reply to  Alex Wilson
8 months ago

Milak in 2021 Hungarian champs: 50, 100, 200, 400 free, 100, 200 fly (2nd in the 50 fly). He was the same age as Marchand is now.

Reply to  Alex Wilson
8 months ago

Tracy Caulkins, 1978 LC Nationals which served as 1978 WC Trials, won: 100 Br, 200 Br, 400 IM, 200 Fly all American Records, 200 IM World Record

Last edited 8 months ago by OldNotDead
Michael Andrew Wilson
Reply to  OldNotDead
8 months ago

Damn. That is a helluva meet.

Reply to  Alex Wilson
8 months ago

Phelps did it in an Olympic Games, but I guess that doesn’t count towards your question.

8 months ago

Here’s a question that I think is intriguing because of Marchand’s phenomenal potential: What kind of performance at Worlds would be so “disappointing” that it would shut the door on any Phelps comparisons/ future GOAT discussions?

Last edited 8 months ago by uwk
Reply to  uwk
8 months ago

Lmfao calm down kid. Marchand ain’t ever touching Phelps in that debate. Phelps won more individual golds at 19 in Athens than Marchand probably ever will.

Marchand had his big breakout at 20? Phelps was already an elite full 4 year Olympic cycle into his career at that age.

Last edited 8 months ago by Swim2win
Reply to  Swim2win
8 months ago

Not to mention in his prime Phelps was probably top 5 in the world in 3 of the 4 100m events. Marchand ain’t ever gonna be a sprinter

Emily Se-Bom Lee
Reply to  Swim2win
8 months ago

prime phelps is the sum of peak milak, popovici and marchand. comparing any of those individuals doesn’t do them any favours and really isn’t necessary

Last edited 8 months ago by Emily Se-Bom Lee
Reply to  uwk
8 months ago

Even if he failed to medal at all this Worlds I wouldn’t be drawing any conclusions. We’ve seen he has massive potential.

Reply to  uwk
8 months ago

How about enjoying the ride, instead?

Reply to  uwk
8 months ago

He is in peak form right now so if he doesn’t win/dominate than he isn’t ever going to be anywhere close to goat status. Maybe French goat but thats it.

1650 Onetrick
Reply to  uwk
8 months ago

Weird question, but now that I think about it, if he doesn’t do well at worlds, I don’t see a reason to shut any door. Even if he gets dead last at prelims in all his events, I’d just say it’s a fluke. Dude has too much potential for us to be eagerly waiting to dismiss him

8 months ago

Sexy god Manaudou is literally HIM

No other way to put it

Leon’s friend
8 months ago

I swam with Leon during his previous NCAA reign. Can tell you there is a 0% he is more than 1 week rested and that taper is still probably harder than most D1 Schools winter training sessions.. I’m serious. I’ve seen it.

100% he’s not shaved. He actually has some hair just really blonde. Just like he wasn’t shaved or rested at Mid Season or Pac-12’s. And everybody thought he peaked.

Then NCAA’s happened and he made everyone eat their words.

I’m not worried and if your a fan you shouldn’t either. If I could sports bet on swimming.. I’m taking out a loan and putting it on Leon.


Beginner Swimmer at 25
8 months ago

Title of world’s best swimmer now returns to Popovici unless Marchand can prove otherwise this summer

Reply to  Beginner Swimmer at 25
8 months ago

Brother this is French trials. Leon could swim deaf and blind with only 3 limbs and still win + qualify for worlds. This means nothing

Reply to  Suiii
8 months ago

you better be deaf blind or mute A-aron

Reply to  Beginner Swimmer at 25
8 months ago

Popovici was already the world’s best swimmer in 2022!

Reply to  Beginner Swimmer at 25
8 months ago

Leon Marchand was awarded the FINA Male Swimmer of the Meet at the 2022 World Aquatics Championships.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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