Intrigue and Excitement in French Swimming: Agnel’s Back, Is Leveaux Next?

And the plot thickens…

First there was the abrupt resignation of Lionel Horter, the Technical Director of French Swimming, on Friday. Then came yesterday’s announcement that Yannick Agnel would be returning to France to train under Horter at Mulhouse Olympic Natation. The news from the Hexagon on Tuesday is that Amaury Leveaux is considering coming out of retirement to join Horter and Agnel in Mulhouse.

In a radio interview on RMC Sport, the four-time Olympic medalist admitted he was considering a return to the pool. Leveaux told RMC, “I saw Lionel Horter last Wednesday in Paris, in a restaurant. We talked. What did we talk about? What if I took up (swimming) again, if there was a little thing, for a 50m in Rio, the war to end all wars…. I said, ‘why not?’ ‘I’d like that.’ He’s going to give me an answer. After that I’ll have the cards in my hand. I’ll have to decide.’”

Amaury Leveaux retired in December 2013 after a storied career with the French team. He was the leadoff leg in both the 4×100 free relay that edged the US for gold in London in 2012, and the one that took silver to the US in Beijing in 2008. In addition he won silver with France’s 4×200 free relay in London, and was the silver medalist in the 50m free at Beijing. Leveaux was highly decorated in sprint free in short course meters, and still holds the world record in the 100 with 44.94.

Also on Tuesday, RMC had Yannick Agnel on the radio. Agnel explained his decision to return to France in more detail. Notably he reminded listeners that “it’s just a sport. You get the impression it’s a huge deal. After all, I’m here because I love it, because I have fun, because I enjoy swimming.” When asked if it was a rash decision like the one he took to move to Baltimore 15 months ago, Agnel replied, “No, I really thought it over. I spoke to both Bob (Bowman) and Lionel (Horter) several times over the last few days, and with Bob over the last several weeks.”

And while he said he really enjoyed his time in the United States, the “method” of training wasn’t working for him, and that showed up in the results. It’s just not what he was used to, and rather than stick it out in Baltimore to see if he would adapt better to this different method, he decided to make a change with 18 months left before Rio.

He did, however, credit Bowman and the team at North Baltimore for giving him “another vision of the sport.” He added, “thank goodness Bob Bowman was there a year and a half ago. Otherwise I’d be watching sports on television. Swimming, that is. So I have to thank him for that. And he really gave me another way of looking at the sport…. It’s something I’ll have forever. It’s an adventure I’ll never forget.”

And so the adventure begins. Lionel Horter, no longer in charge of the technical department of French Swimming, is back to coaching. Yannick Agnel is joining him in Mulhouse. Amaury Leveaux is mulling over a comeback. Just as the French media was beginning to whine about the Bleus’ mixed results at European Championships, a new fire has been lit and there is excitement in the air.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
7 years ago

Perhaps Muffat should consider joining Agnel and Leveaux and give swimming another try too! What worked for Agnel in the past certainly seemed to work for her!

bobo gigi
Reply to  Danjohnrob
7 years ago

If Muffat wants to come back, she must train with Lucas.
Now that Pellegrini has gone, I see a possibility.
She would have a great training partner with Van Rouwendaal and Lucas is a magician to rebuild a swimmer physically and mentally.
The question is: does she want to come back?

Reply to  bobo gigi
7 years ago

I think you should send her a fan letter and suggest it! You can tell her many people at SwimSwam would love to see her end her career on a happier note with a good showing in Rio! 😉

7 years ago

Leveaux is one of the most talented swimmers out there. As Bobo loves to say, he was obese and hooked on cheeseburgers before Lucas managed to push him back into a world class 50/100/200m swimmer for Euros and Olympics 2012.

But in the last quadrennial he was already facing mental problems. The supersuits saga of 2009 definitely affected him, as you can see from videos of where he’s just depressed at how his semifinal swim of 47.7 pales in comparison to Alain Bernard’s 46.94.

I would love to see Leveaux returned to his true form from 2008. He was rightfully crowned as the king of Rijeka, and I was in awe of his 44.94 and perhaps even more impressively his… Read more »

bobo gigi
7 years ago

Leveaux is talented but the magical suits helped him a lot. A lot more than for most of his opponents.

bobo gigi
7 years ago

I don’t know if it’s very serious but why not?
RMC is not the most serious radio.
And Leveaux loves joking around once a minute.
But it would be fun to see Leveaux again in the water.
The 4X200 free relay badly needs him.
My only concern is his weight.
After 2 years away from the pool, I imagine he must weigh at least 110 kg or 242,5 pounds. :mrgreen:

7 years ago

The suits definitely helped him, I agree. But to this day Leveaux still has one of the best starts in the business (perhaps on par with or even better than Manaudou – watch the 2012 London 4x200m and he’s ahead of Lochte at the 15m mark) alongside pretty impressive versatility.

I can’t think of anyone else who has, in textile, 21.X, 48.1 and 1.46.X

7 years ago

Ummm… Cameron mcEvoy already has 21., 47., and 1:45.

7 years ago

It seems like those supersuit stars need to commit to a healthy diet and CORE work, as well as leg work to help maintain body position. They may not get their PR again, but they can certainly get textile PR’s and compete with the best again!

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 …

Read More »