Flashback to the 2009 Eur0pean Junior Swimming Championships. Danila Izotov, 100 free champion, and Yannick Agnel, 200 and 400 free champion, were the two big stars of the meet, overlapping in just one race, the 200, where Agnel won 1:47.02 to 1:47.77.
The two young men are both huge, with Izotov standing 6’4 and Angel standing a towering 6’8″.
This was supposed to be the next great European rivalry in swimming. At the 2010 World Short Course Championships in Dubai, the two swimmers hit the water in a dead-heat, but Agnel made up a slight deficit over Izotov to give the French the gold and leave the Russians with silver.
In 2011, the two participated in a camp in Nice under Fabrice Pellerin, where the Russian “artistic” vision of swimming was combined with Pellerin’s own hugely-technical visions in one of the most analytical swim camps we’ve ever heard of.
Heavy data analysis at the time showed that Izotov was much stronger than Agnel, but superior coordination and stroke balance would give Agnel the brighter future, even though at the time Izotov’s bests were better (his swim from 2009 still ranks him 4th on the all-time list, just one spot behind Agnel).
As it turns out, that was true for the next two years. As Agnel’s stock soared to a pair of Olympic golds, including in the 200 free, and a silver, while Izotov slipped from the conversation with an 8th place finish at last year’s Olympic in that same 200 free.
See the time progressions from swimrankings.net:
That was, until 2013. Agnel, though with a bright future training under Bob Bowman, has said that he’s dropping the 200 free from the World Championships altogether (though local media has rumored he might be back in).
Meanwhile, Izotov on Friday at the World University Games in his home country looked like Izotov c. 2009 with a 1:44.87 relay leadoff that is the fastest in the world in 2013.
Perhaps, with 2016 in both men’s sights, we’ve seen a bit of a rekindling of this rivalry that once had the potential