Born on April 8, 1981, in Perpignan, in southern France, Frédérick Bousquet, grew up a football (soccer) enthusiast. However, in his early teens, he suffered from orthopedic issues and his doctors banned him from direct contact sports. Football was out; swimming came in.
2000 Olympic Games
In 1999, Bousquet moved from his smaller club to the Cercle des Nageurs d’Antibes, to prepare for Olympic trials. Bousquet surfaced internationally at the European championships, where he helped win the 4×100 free relay. Shortly thereafter, Bousquet joined team France at the Sydney Olympic Games as part of the 4×100 free and 4×100 medley relays. Though neither squad medaled, they made it to the final, where Bousquet was able to watch his idol, Russian sprinter Alexander Popov, in action.
Training in Alabama
Over the next few years, Bousquet retained his strong sprinting abilities, which he showcased at French Championships in 2001 and 2002. Finally, the 20 year-old left France, arriving at Auburn University in Alabama, to study international business. Bousquet credits much of his later success to how he thrived in the American university environment, feeding off the energy of American sportsmanship, and benefitting from the superlative facilities at the NCAA Division I school.
At 2003 World Championships in Barcelona, Bousquet delivered the second fastest 100 free split in history during the 4×100 free relay, in order to secure a spot on the podium for France. His individual 100 free did not fare so well; he buckled under the pressure of expectation and touched sixth, well behind gold medal winner Popov.
The next year, Bousquet performed well in short course competition, breaking his first world record in a s/c meter pool during American University Championships. Though Bousquet did not make it to finals at the 2004 Olympic Games, he captured the French record in the 100-meter free during a semi-final swim. Back in s/c pools, he had more success, becoming the European champion of the 100 and 50-meter free at European Short Course Championships. During NCAA Championships, he was the first person in history to break 19 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle.
Return to France and 2008 Olympic Games
Bousquet cemented his place during French Championships as France’s most formidable sprinter when he captured long course titles in the 50 free, 50 and 100 fly, and, once again, the 100 free. While he switched to Cercle des Nageurs de Marseille, Bousquet continued to split time between France and the States. When he was in Marseilles, he trained under once-teammate Romain Barnier. Though 2006 and 2007 were somewhat disappointing years, Bousquet still aided France to a bronze medal during World Championships in Melbourne in the 400 free relay, and continued to assert his dominance in France at national competitions.
By the time the 2008 Olympic Games arrived, France and the United States were named favorites in the 400 free relay. With Michael Phelps’ dreams of 8 gold medals riding on the backs of his three teammates, the stakes were high. French anchor, Alain Bernard, taunted the American team leading up to the race. Though Bousquet overtook Cullen Jones in the third leg, swimming France’s fastest split during the race, veteran Jason Lezak was able to overcome Bernard to secure gold.
2009 World Championships and suspension
Although many swimmers came under fire for their use of suits made of high polyurethane content, 2009 still proved to be a better year for Bousquet. At French Nationals in April, which doubled as trials for World Championships, he became the first man to cross the pool in less than 21 seconds in the long course 50-meter freestyle, only two weeks after his partner, Olympian Laure Manaudou, gave birth to their daughter. Though FINA was in the midst of discussing the legitimacy of records made in certain suits, they allowed his record and did not ban the “tech” suits until later in the year. Bousquet also beat Olympic champion, Alain Bernard, in the 100 free.
At World Championships in Rome, amidst criticism for wearing a Jaked one of the swimsuit brands speared by polyurethane protestors (like Michael Phelps’ illustrious coach, Bob Bowman), Bousquet took home three medals – silver in the 50 free, bronze in the 100, and another bronze in the 400 free relay.
The following year, Bousquet was suspended from competition for two months after testing positive for a banned substance. Bousquet claimed the substance, heptaminol, must have been in an over-the-counter drug that he took to treat a sudden onset of hemorrhoids before a meet. Regardless, his performance at the meet in June 2010 did not stand out, and there has not been a repeat offense.
Subsequent international appearances
In 2011, Bousquet missed the podium at World Championships, and later, failed to make the 2012 Olympic team at all. Vowing that his career was not over, Bousquet continued to compete at national meets, and appeared at 2013 World Championships in Barcelona, though he once again did not place. He finally announced that he would be sitting out of the 2013-2014 short course season, in order to recover from several injuries that had been building up.
Along with his aquatic accomplishments, Bousquet – like many of his French teammates – has collected a number of tattoos over the years, allowing his torso to stand out amongst a literal sea of toned swimmer bodies. However, the tattoos worked against him when several nude photographs taken from a webcam surfaced; Bousquet was easily identified by his ink. Though the incident was immediately compared to that of his partner, Laure Manaudou, it passed quickly and with little fanfare.
In the interim
Commercially, Bousquet participated with several other members of the squad in the HOM men’s underwear campaign, launched shortly before the London Games. In mid-2013, Bousquet also posed with team member (and uncle of his daughter) Florent Manaudou, for an photography exhibition by artist Olivier Ciappa, supporting the LGBTQ community. Though he recently separated from Laure Manaudou, Bousquet still enjoys spending time with their daughter, Manon.
In September 2014, still out of the pool with a shoulder injury, Bousquet was the sports director for the Prudential Singapore Swim Stars, an unconventional meet in which swimmers compete in prelims and finals within two hours, rather than over the course of the entire day. American swimming celebrities Nathan Adrian and Anthony Ervin were among the attendees.
Bousquet has joked about his age (he will be 35 during the next Olympics), but still shows an interest in recovery in preparation for Rio 2016. He has alluded to retirement in his near future, but only after he’s soaked up some rays on one of Brazil’s legendary beaches.
Originally developed by Alexandra Ashworth