France Introduces New, 9-day Tour for March 2023: the “Giant Open”

The French Swimming Federation (“FFN”) has announced its inaugural Giant Open tour, a nine-day, three-stop “tour de France” that will take place from March 11, 2023, to March 19, 2023, and feature six days of racing in three of the Hexagon’s most iconic swim cities: Marseille, Nice, and Paris.

At first blush, the Giant Open looks like a shortened version of the Golden Tour. After all, the first two stops will be Marseille’s “MOM” (or “Meeting Open Méditerranée”) and Nice’s “Meeting Camille Muffat,” much as they have been for the last ten years. But these first two meets serve as qualifiers for the third meet, called the “Finale Giant Open” which is the only meet in the series where prize money will be awarded.

  • March 11-12: Meeting Open Méditerranée (Marseille)
  • March 15-16: Meeting Camille Muffat (Nice)
  • March 18-19: Finale Giant Open (Saint Germain-en-Laye)

FFN has given the series an overhaul, promising high-level racing with an innovative format. Jacco Verhaeren, the former Australian national team head coach who was named Performance Director at the FFN in June 2021, told SwimSwam, “I talk to the [French] coaches regularly, and they were looking for a change that would make it more exciting, more challenging. We took the opportunity to change the format of this competition. We’re now having three meets in a row, because we also wanted to practice racing over a longer time period. It’s more intense than just doing one weekend. It requires remaining focused” over the nine days, which is the same time frame as the Olympic swimming program.

“We were trying to accomplish several things: keeping the athletes focused; getting used to not having the same event at every meet; practicing doubles; and adding a learning opportunity for athletes. The more they race, the more they learn. Why not push yourself a little further than just heats and finals? These are practice meets but with a challenge, as well. You do 50s and 100s in training; why not do them in competition, in addition to your regular program?”

In order to be eligible to win prize money (the purse for this inaugural series is 100,000 €), swimmers will need to finish among the top-eight in an event from the first two stops. Verhaeren explained, “The program is different in Marseille than it is in Nice. Not every event is swum every two days, which is very different. Also, for the 100s, we’ll have heats, semi-finals, and finals, but in one night. We want to create opportunities so that people can swim back-to-back races. When you are swimming at World Championships or European Championships, you have individual events, but you also have relays. For the 50s, we’ll have heats, quarter-finals, semis, and finals. It’s kind of like skins but there is more rest in between. But not every event is at every meet, so it is spread out over the four days. For the 200s and 400s, it will be heats and finals, and for the 800 and 1500, we will have timed finals.”

Program – Qualifying Stops

Marseille   Nice  
March 11 March 12 March 15 March 16
W 200 back M 200 breast M 200 back W 200 breast
M 100 fly W 200 fly W 100 fly M 200 fly
W 100 breast M 100 back M 100 breast W 100 back
M 200 IM W 100 free W 200 IM M 100 free
W 1500 free M 800 free M 1500 free W 800 free
M 200 free W 400 free W 200 free M 400 free
W 400 IM M 50 free M 400 IM W 50 free
M 50 breast W 50 back W 50 breast M 50 back
W 50 fly M 50 fly

“In Paris, there will be only finals. We will take the results of the first two meets and whoever is in the top 8 of an event, they will swim directly in the A final. But there will be other swimmers in Paris, too. For 50s and 100s, we have B, C, and D finals; 200s, C finals; and 400, 800, and 1500, B finals. So pretty much everyone who races in the first four days will qualify; but it depends on your level whether you swim in the A, B, C, or D final. The aim is to offer the swimmers something else than just heats and finals and the same program every two days.”

Qualifying Times (LCM)

Women Men
50 free 26.84 23.62
100 free 58.10 51.45
200 free 2:06.50 1:53.42
400 free 4:26.55 4:00.52
800 free 9:09.98 8:19.70
1500 free 17:36.38 15:59.20
50 back 20.61 27.01
100 back 1:06.11 58.30
200 back 2:23.92 2:08.28
50 breast 33.94 29.65
100 breast 1:14.56 1:05.27
200 breast 2:41.64 2:24.24
50 fly 28.36 25.09
100 fly 1:03.48 55.79
200 fly 2:23.28 2:07.42
200 IM 2:23.98 2:08.65
400 IM 5:05.32 4:34.71

Program – Finale at Saint Germain-en-Laye

March 18 March 18 March 19 Warch 19
Morning Afternoon Morning Afternoon
M 200 free D, C, & B Finals M 200 free W 200 free D, C, & B Finals W 200 free
W 100 back D, C, & B Finals W 400 IM M 100 back D, C, & B Finals M 400 IM
M 100 breast D, C, & B Finals M 100 breast W 100 breast D, C, & B Finals W 100 breast
W 400 free C & B Finals W 100 back M 400 free C & B Finals M 100 back
M 200 IM D, C, & B Finals M 200 IM W 200 IM D, C, & B Finals W 200 IM
W 200 breast D, C, & B Finals W 400 free M 200 breast D, C, & B Finals M 400 free
M 100 fly D, C, & B Finals M 100 fly W 100 fly D, C, & B Finals W 100 fly
W 200 fly D, C, & B Finals W 200 breast M 200 fly D, C, & B Finals M 200 breast
M 200 back D, C, & B Finals M 800 free W 200 back D, C, & B Finals W 800 free
W 100 free D, C, & B Finals W 200 fly M 100 free D, C, & B Finals M 200 fly
M 50 free D, C, & B Finals M 200 back W 50 free D, C, & B Finals W 200 back
W 400 IM C & B Finals W 100 free M 400 IM C & B Finals M 100 free
M 800 free B Final M 50 free skin
Top 8
Top 4
Top 2
W 800 free B Final W 50 free skin
Top 8
Top 4
Top 2

The entry period runs from February 3 to March 3. French swimmers can enter through the FFN portal, while international swimmers must contact [email protected]


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1 month ago

Great idea. Love the creativity –> purpose driven –> recognizing new era of the sport.

Will give athletes and coaches a lot to learn from.

It’s not just the nine day meets. It’s the shorter and shorter turnarounds from one final to another. Summer McIntosh’s IE-to-free relay at Comm Games shifted a lot of people’s thinking. Was it 10 minutes? To me, that was the most interesting event of the past season. It’s like she created her own personal skins, lol.

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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