Doha World Cup Preview: The Possible Return Of Yannick Agnel


The competition is heating up on these last two stops of the 2015 FINA World Cup Series, as evidenced by the start lists just released by the next host, Doha, Qatar. An array of talent, including a strong troop from Great Britain, Italy and France, is scheduled to descend upon the Hamad Aquatic Center on Monday, November 2nd and Tuesday, November 3rd. Additionally, the USA is sending a 14-member strong squad of 18 & U swimmers, including young stars such as Sean Grieshop, Carston Vissering, Cassidy Bayer and Courtney Harnish.  Newly-minted U.S. National Teamer Maxime Rooney is also slated to join the big boys in the pool in his World Cup debut.

Key Women’s Competitors

Mainstay powerhouse and current World Cup point leader, Hungarian Katinka Hosszu, is listed with her typical monstrous schedule of 16 events, which she may or may not dwindle down the day of the meet.  In Tokyo, she cut her day 2’s planned schedule by two events, of which she said, “Today was a bit of an easier schedule for me, better spaces between my events, and so it made it a bit easier, but I feel I got tougher these two days.”

In addition to the aforementioned 18 & U squad traveling from the U.S., the same American competitors who threw down in Tokyo are slated to compete in Doha as well.  That means we should another set of sprint events, including the 50m and 100m backstroke from Natalie Coughlin as well as more breaststroking from World Cup gold medalist Molly Hannis.  Felicia Lee, Caitlin Leverenz and Laura Sogar also appear on the Doha start lists.

Ever-consistent Emily Seebohm will look to continue her sub-59 100 backstroke streak, while also seeking to maintain dominance in the 200 backstroke distance as well.  On the freestyle front, according to the start lists we’ll be treated to two head-to-head battles between distance aces Lauren Boyle (NZL) and Jaz Carlin (GBR). Both women are set to compete in the 400m and 800m freestyle and are seeded 1-2 in each event.

Dropping down to the 200m freestyle distance, Boyle and Carlin will be joined by Italian World Championships silver medalist Federica Pellegriniwho comes in as the top seed with her time of 1:55.00 she posted in Vichy just before Kazan.

Key Men’s Competitors

American Maxime Rooney isn’t the only new name ready to possibly shake things up in the freestyle events, Frenchman Yannick Agnel and British swimmers James Guy and Robbie Renwick are also scheduled to compete in Doha.

For Agnel, he was one of the favorites to win the men’s 200m freestyle at the 2015 FINA World Championships before pulling out of the competition due to illness. He hasn’t competed since the Golden Tour-Nancy back in May, but is on the start lists in the 50m-100m-200m-400m freestyle events in Doha.

Two members of the historic Great Britain (GBR) 800m freestyle relay squad that claimed gold in Kazan, Guy and Renwick are making the trip and are both scheduled to compete in the 200m freestyle, with Guy also taking on the 400m freestyle and Renwick in the 100m freestyle mix.  South African Myles Brown is making the trip and will be in the field in all three aforementioned events, while America’s Zane Grothe will carry-over his competitive schedule from Tokyo as well. Of note, Argentinian stand-out Federico Grabich and Brazilian speedster Bruno Fratus also highlight the start lists in the sprint freestyle races.

Look for some big-time competition to take place in the breaststroke events, as University of Stirling’s Ross Murdoch and Craig Benson, as well as GBR teammate Andrew Willis are scheduled to take on Hungarian Daniel Gyurta, Americans Kevin Cordes and Chuck Katis, as well as South Africa’s Cameron Van der Burgh, the current World Cup points leader on the men’s side.

Finally, the men’s backstroke and butterfly fields are rich with talent as well, with red-hot Australian Mitch Larkin scheduled to compete in Doha, along with GBR’s Liam Tancock and Luke Greenbank and American David Plummer. 2012 Olympic gold medalist Chad Le Clos is also slated to take on the likes of Tom Shields in the butterfly races.

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5 years ago

Well, Imagine a 2012 shape agnel only Stronger because of age, if he gets back into shape the freestyle events may be interesting again.

Reply to  Ok
5 years ago

Agreed. The 1:43.1 is one of the greatest swims in the event ever, bar none, and his 47.80 is a very very solid time.

Reply to  Ok
5 years ago

For that matter, if he returns to even 2013 form, I’d say the French are favorites for taking the 400 free relay.

5 years ago

I love Natalie Coughlin, but I wonder if it’s worth it for her to be doing these meets right now, instead of back home training. Her Hong Kong times weren’t very impressive. The prize money probably isn’t very much compared to her endorsements.

Reply to  floppy
5 years ago

She trains to race sprints. Why not race sprints? You can’t mimic race conditions (ready room, crowded warmup, etc.) at home.

Joey Garcia
Reply to  swimdoc
5 years ago

More than ready rooms, the World Cups will have some solid competition which is hard to come by for one of the greatest like Natalie.

Shout out to Maxim and friends: Go Seahawks!

bobo gigi
5 years ago

Please remove these automatic videos of last world championships!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks.

Back to that world cup in Doha, cool to see some of my favorite US youngsters like Rooney, Grieshop or Bayer. And cool to see Agnel back in the water.

Reply to  bobo gigi
5 years ago

Well done Bobo….it worked.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

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