Alain Bernard to be Honored Friday in French Retirement Jubilee

29-year old French swimming hero Alain Bernard will be honored Friday in a huge retirement party for him and two of his 2008 Olympic teammates at le Cercle des Nageurs d’Antibes.

Bernard, Boris Steimetz, and Christophe Lebon all chose to call-it-a-career after the Olympics in 2012 (Bernard was the only swimmer who made the team),  but all three were a part of the 2008 team that with 6 total medals, laid the groundwork for the four-gold explosion that we saw in London.

Bernard’s greatest success and most painful defeat both came in Beijing. He was the individual champion in the men’s 100 free, which made him the first French man to win gold since 1952.

Prior to that, though, he was on the wrong end of the most famous moment in swimming history. Despite splitting a 46.7 to anchor France’s 400 free relay at the Olympics, faster than most would have imagined plausible by standard means of human aquatic locomotion, he was run-down in the last 50 meters by American Jason Lezak.

He took a second gold medal in 2012 as a prelims member of the 400 free relay, though as only the 5th finisher at France’s Trials was not invited to swim in finals.

Lebon and Steimetz are not quite as well-known as their co-honorees at this ceremony, but they were certainly a major part of France’s resurgence in the pool. Lebon was the last man to swim in individual butterfly for France at the Olympics, an obvious weakness to their overall program, and Lebon was a member of the prelims group in the same 400 free relay where Bernard took silver.

The event will have tributes, special exhibition races, appearance, and different activities, though the exact schedule of events is being kept under wraps. Regardless, it sounds like it will be a fantastic party to bid bon voyage to three of France’s great champions.

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bobo gigi
11 years ago

Alain Bernard is a good guy. The magical suit has probably helped him more than some other sprinters because of his very powerful body but he has also worked very hard to win his titles.

11 years ago

This is how everyone should retire! What a great idea.

11 years ago

Would love to see a running list of retiring olympians/world-champs.

Reply to  anonymous
11 years ago

Including females….

11 years ago

He has a gold and silver medal from the Olympics, and there are plenty of freestylers coming up the ranks. If Stravius returns to form (he didn’t swim in the finals of either relay in London), he would replace Lefert’s legs. You’re also forgetting Bousquet, who is still training, and Florent Manaudou, who will be deadly if his 100 comes together.

I say kudos to Clement for wanting to pursue life outside of swimming. He’s reached the pinnacle of the sport and knows his limits.

Reply to  Josh
11 years ago

Bousquet has not been an imposing 100m freestyler since 2009. Albeit a great relay swimmer, he has not swum under 49 seconds since the suits and his age and stroke style look set to confine him to the 50.

11 years ago

It will be interesting to see what the French have coming up in the ranks. With the loss of Steimetz, Bernard and Lefert, that’s a big let down. Has anyone heard whether Bosquet or any others are retiring?

Reply to  Superfishy
11 years ago

Bernard was not swimming well.. Lefert if much of a loss (for both free relays)

Bousquet may try to keep up till 2016.. He really wants to have a Real showdown with Cielo (Great Friendship and rivalry they have) but we will have to see if his body will keep up..

Philip Johnson
Reply to  Superfishy
11 years ago

also to note, Leveaux is not getting any younger, he is 26. although i heard he may drop the 200 to focus on the 100.

Reply to  Superfishy
11 years ago

Lefert is an enormous loss to the French program. I hope he reconsiders as he, as well as Jeremy Stravius, and Yannick Agnel appears to hold the keys to France’s relay success in the next four years.

True, Lefert may never be an individual gold medalist, and therefore doesn’t have the millionaire earning potential of some of his teammates, but the following teams would have been incredibly formidable over the next 4 years.

1) 4×1 free: agnel, meynard, stravius (lefert), gilot? leveaux?
2) 4×2 free: agnel, stravius, (lefert), mallet? leveaux?
3) 4×1 medley: stravius, (1:00.x breastroker), (Lefert), Agnel.

The loss of Lefert leaves a hole in relays that would otherwise have the potential to
case 1) be… Read more »

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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