Did Leon Marchand Hold Back in the 400 IM Final?


Leon Marchand defended his NCAA title in the 400 IM tonight, although he was over 3 seconds slower in the event than he was last year. This was just one night after he DEMOLISHED the NCAA record in the 500 freestyle. What was going on there?

On the ESPN broadcast, Rowdy Gaines claimed Leon looked a little ‘out of it’ (compared to the 500 free last night) on his last 100 of the 400 IM. After the session, Leon said he was really focusing on the relay, making sure he swam a good first 300 and then letting the momentum carry him to the end of the race. This paid off, as ASU went on to win the 400 medley relay, their first relay title in program history.

To me, it seems like several factors went into this: Leon had a harder time recovering after a 500 free, he was focusing more on the relay, and maybe Leon was trying to give his teammate David Schlicht a little mental boost or draft in the lane next to him.

But whatever the reasons, Leon was so dominant last year that he was able to add over 3 seconds in the 400 IM and still win by over 3 seconds. That’s nuts.

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European in the Pool
3 months ago

Very good analysis by Coleman (who, by the way, has the best “hair and nose ring” game on this site).

3 months ago

Looks like he shut it down ..without that 48. Split ASU doesn’t get the win.

3 months ago

A tempest in a [French] teapot.
He does what he does for himself, his team, and for France – fin de l’histoire

Last edited 3 months ago by MIKE IN DALLAS
VA Steve
3 months ago

Hearing Rowdy and reading SS commenters was very funny. Leon indicated his legs were recovering from the 500 and Rowdy insisted he shut it down because of the upcoming relay. Whatever the truth, Rowdy mentioned the relay around 5 times as if he was arguing with SS.

3 months ago

There’s no doubt in my mind that he was swimming more for his team than not. I honestly think he was thinking “screw the 400 IM” in return for “I need to show out for the 400 free relay, my team needs me and I already got them full points in the 400 IM, so this one (the relay) needs to be the banger”… sadly, this is all to the dismay of swimswam patrons, as they (we) may well never see him take another 400 IM short course 100% seriously.

Last edited 3 months ago by swimfast
Reply to  swimfast
3 months ago

The 400 medley relay was last night, he swam breaststroke.

Reply to  swimfast
3 months ago

He can turn his attention to SCM after he turns pro.

Reply to  Troyy
3 months ago

Will Leon be NCAA ineligible after he turns pro even though he’s a foreigner?

62.4 lbs/ft3
3 months ago

It is called team swimming. The team gets nothing more by him going after the 4IM record. Winning the 4MR was the only goal.

Stewart Fenwick
3 months ago

Good practice for that double in Paris

Z Tech
3 months ago

No, he was out fast nearly on record pace at the 100, as far as I can tell 1:40.37 at the 200 is the fastest he’s ever been besides his record swim. He kinda just gradually wasn’t able to keep pace with his record because he Townley Haas’ed (and held on!) a 500 yesterday. And the 100 breaststroke later is 60% underwater, it’s really not that surprising an aerobic machine like him didn’t have much issue there, but he is human and there are in fact limits, it’s kinda incredible we’re looking at 3:32 funny as if he sandbagged… teleport someone from 2022 to these discussions and they’d have so many questions

About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

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