Leon Marchand Commits To Another Season At ASU, Keeping 400 IM WR “In Back of My Mind”

Leon Marchand is loving life.

Coming off of a wildly dominant NCAA season with the Arizona State Sun Devils, the 20-year-old Frenchman will have all eyes on him at the upcoming World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, and the pressure will only intensify in the lead-up to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games in front of his home country.

In a pair of recent interviews with French outlet L’Equipe, Marchand dove into a number of topics, including his future at ASU, the potential of breaking Michael Phelps‘ world record in the 400 IM, his event lineup at Worlds, and the impact his new training partners have had on him.

Will Swim At Arizona State Next Season

Given Marchand’s quick rise to stardom which really took off at the 2022 World Championships, the expectation from many was that he would turn professional after the 2022-23 NCAA season, given the sponsorship opportunity (and the need to double-down on long course training) that would await him prior to Paris 2024.

However, Marchand has committed to representing ASU in his junior season in 2023-24, specifically eyeing the NCAA team championship title after the Sun Devils finished as the runners-up to Cal last month.

“It made me want to go for the title,” he told L’Equipe, translated from French, on the team’s second-place finish at the 2023 NCAAs.

He said he will potentially sit out of the first semester, perhaps solely focusing on training, before gearing up for Pac-12s and NCAAs.

“I’m still hesitating (about) whether I’ll do just one or both semesters. But as for the competitive season, I decided to go for it. We have quite a challenge.”

400 IM World Record & The Idea of Going Sub-4:00

Ever since Marchand put Phelps’ 400 IM world record in serious jeopardy at the World Championships last summer, swimming a time of 4:04.28 to come within 44 one-hundredths of the all-time mark set by the GOAT at the 2008 Olympics (4:03.84), his potential to break the record has been a hot topic in swimming circles.

Marchand said it’s certainly on his mind in the lead-up to the 2023 World Championships.

“I definitely think about it,” he said. “I feel like if I want to achieve everything I want to achieve, I have to go through this (record).

“At Worlds, it will be the first day and I will be super fresh. Now that record is in the back of my mind. It would be awesome to do that. To think that no one has swum faster on the planet. This is Michael’s (Phelps) oldest record, the only one he has left. Poor guy… (he smiles).

“In 2008, I didn’t really watch swimming (he was six years old). Since then, I have seen this race a billion times on YouTube. But not recently, not since I left for the United States.”

Does he ever think about going sub-4:00?

“It’s confidential (he laughs). I just want to do my best. In Chicago (at the Westmont Pro Swim), I swam 4:07, and I can be a lot faster.”

When asked about the possibility of lowering Ryan Lochte‘s 200 IM world record of 1:54.00, set in 2011, Marchand acknowledged he’s still got a lot of work to do to get down to that mark, but definitely belives he can join Lochte and Phelps in becoming the third man sub-1:55 this summer.

“A second and a half separates me from it, but I haven’t yet realized the time that represents my (ability) in the 200 IM,” he said. “Last year’s 400 IM was already well done, but not the 1:55.22. I think I can swim 1:54-something. After (that), 1:54.00, it’s something else again. We have three months.”


Marchand said he will swim the same three events he did in Budapest this summer in Fukuoka: 200 fly, 200 IM, 400 IM.

He said that while he wants to do the 200 breaststroke, coach Bob Bowman is advising against it given the proximity of the 200 breast semis and the 200 IM final.

“Me, I’d love to do it, but Bob doesn’t want to,” Marchand said of the 200 breast. “I will do it at the French Championships and keep it for the Paris Games.”

In Fukuoka, the 200 breast semis come directly before the 200 IM final. However, in Paris, the two events won’t have any scheduling conflicts.


Marchand spoke at length about his training situation in Tempe, first diving into his progression over the course of this past NCAA season that ultimately led to a history-making NCAA performance.

Marchand said he took an extended break after the 2022 World Championships, including skipping the European Championships, in preparation for what he knew would be a long training haul with the collegiate season followed directly by the long course championships in the summer.

“I wanted to take my time, concentrate on my studies by resuming swimming quietly until December,” he said.

Marchand said he really picked things up during winter training in December, doing 9-10 weekly sessions during the school break while also dialing his nutrition, hydration and recovery to a more “professional” level.

Other NCAA Notes

  • Marchand called his 200 free split on the 800 free relay at NCAAs, where he recorded the fastest split ever in 1:28.42, the best race of his life. “I felt like I was flying,” he said.
  • He also said he fell ill and was dealing with a fever on the day of the 200 breast, despite ultimately setting a new NCAA and U.S. Open Record of 1:46.91. “I was dead but I told myself to push for the last race. In terms of sensations, it was horrible.”
  • Asked about his backstroke improvement, Marchand said it’s more about his ability on the underwaters and how the momentum from them allows him to maintain a high temp in the short course pool, though he did say “backstroke is no longer my weak stroke.”

Coming off NCAAs, Marchand competed at the Westmont Pro Swim, and said once again he was feeling under the weather.

“I was a bit afraid of losing my confidence, because I didn’t feel well,” he said, adding that they were in the midst of heavy training and he had been sick.

He said he couldn’t opt out because it was his only scheduled competition prior to the French Elite Championships, which will run June 10-15.

“In the end, it gave me a big confidence boost,” he said, having gone four-for-four by winning the 200 breast, 200 fly, 200 IM and 400 IM in Westmont.

“Even in bad conditions, I can swim fast and win,” he said. “Like in the 200 breaststroke where I am fourth at the last turn. I had no more legs but I said to myself: ‘This one, I can’t lose it.'”


Marchand also spoke on what it’s been like to train with some of the swimmers who have joined Bowman at ASU since his arrival in the fall of 2021, including the reigning Olympic champion in the 400 IM, Chase Kalisz, and 2022 European 200 IM champion Hubert Kos.

“It’s really a bonus to have them in training,” Marchand said. “Chase is consistent in the breaststroke, Hubert has incredible speed in the fly. There is always someone to hold me on each stroke. And, above all, I get on very well with them.”

He also joked about world champion Regan Smith out-splitting him and Kalisz on certain backstroke sets.

“In training, you have to watch out for her,” Marchand said of Smith. “The day you’re not in top form on back, you’re going to blow yourself up straight away.

“The other day, we had a series with 50s of backstroke fast. I was fine, splitting 28.7s, and I’m happy with myself. Regan is often in my line, she touches the wall and I hear 28.3. We look at each other with Chase, who had swum 29.”


Marchand said training at ASU is the ideal place for him for a number of reasons, but one of the keys is the fact that he can stay in his own little bubble and not get caught up with the heightened expectations of him back home.

“Last year, I was able to get used to my new life discreetly. I remain quiet, but I no longer go unnoticed.

“I see stuff on Twitter, I get messages. But what’s good here is that I’m far from France, and I don’t really realize the scope of what I’m doing,” he said.

“Just that people are interested in what’s going on here when basically they have no idea. It’s pretty cool.”

Marchand said things are often hectic given that he’s a full-time student to go along with his busy training schedule.

“It’s (intense) to have to catch up on homework during competitions and in periods when we really load up in training. But my studies interest me so much,” he said, specifying that as a computer science major, his current focus is on C++ programming.

Despite the hecticness of it all, he’s loving every second.

“I know why I’m doing all this,” he said. “My life is perfect as it is.”

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5 months ago

Not gonna happen lmfao

Eric Angle
Reply to  phelpsfan
2 months ago
5 months ago

For me is sure that he’s a smart guy and wasn’t any dishonest word what he said.

5 months ago

Don’t worry Leon, you will obliterate the WR in Paris in front of your dad/family, President Macron and the whole nation 🙂

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Kim
5 months ago

Oh man, Macron is gonna be such a little creep there. (He was so bad at the world cup)

5 months ago

Think Leon could sell Minakov on a place to land? He might be a big help on the “We have quite a challenge.” front.

Alison England
5 months ago

I still can’t get used to the American word ‘dove’, instead of ‘dived’. English is a very interesting language.

Reply to  Alison England
5 months ago

US past tense dove, nearly anywhere else dived, pas participle everywhere dived. Simple 😉

Alison England
Reply to  Brownish
5 months ago

Yes, I am aware of that. It just looks so odd, that’s all.

Reply to  Alison England
5 months ago

American English is unique just as Aussie or Kiwi. Specially who’s British or learned British English.

Alex Wilson
Reply to  Alison England
5 months ago

Remember the line from “My Fair Lady”! “In America they have not spoken it (English) in years”!

Reply to  Alex Wilson
5 months ago

While I know everyone’s having a bit of fun, exploring the divergence of American and British English is actually a really fascinating topic to me.

The great irony is that the British accent has undergone more changes since the two countries had their rapid unplanned disassembly than has the American accent, meaning that many American accents are more closely-related to the 18th-century British accent than is the current British accent.

Here’s a good paper on the topic from the BBC.


My favorite part of the conversation is that the very thing that led to some of these quirks of the English language, namely dictionaries, which once written were accepted as law… Read more »

Reply to  Braden Keith
5 months ago

I thought Elon Musk invented the “unplanned disassembly” with his rocket. Good to know it happened in the Revolutionary War!

Reply to  Alison England
5 months ago

its the strangest language, and I’ve lived here my whole life. today it was pointed out, say Limb (as in your arm), then say climb (as in to climb a tree). and how vastly different the “limb” sounds in each.

also had an English professor spell fish using vastly different letters, used from words that have the same sounds as fish. wish I could remember how he did it.

Reply to  mcmflyguy
5 months ago



5 months ago

Interesting re his choice to skip the 200 breast. While the article is right that the 200 breast and 200IM don’t conflict in Paris, there are other conflicts.

Assuming he will want to swim the 200IM, 400IM, 200 Breast and 200 Fly, as well as the 200 free relay, his schedule will look like this:

Day 1: X
Day 2 Heats: 400IM
Day 2 Finals: 400IM
Day 3: X
Day 4 Heats: 200 Fly, 200 Breast, 200 Free relay
Day 4 Finals: 200 Fly semi, 200 Breast semi, 200 free relay final
Day 5 Heats: X
Day 5 Finals: 200 Fly, 200 Breast
Day 6 Heats: 200IM
Day 6 Finals: 200IM… Read more »

Alex Wilson
Reply to  Jimmyswim
5 months ago

I see Marchand swimming in Medley Relays or Longer free relays, such as 4 x 200, as he is better at distances like 200 free than 50 free. I believe a 200 relay 4 x 50.

Reply to  Alex Wilson
5 months ago

The comment is expressly about the Olympics. There is no 4 x 50 Free Relay at the Olympics. I think it was pretty clear when I said 200 Free relay that I was talking about the 4 x 200 Freestyle Relay.

Reply to  Jimmyswim
5 months ago

Is it even worth it for him to be on 4×2? I see him foregoing it

5 months ago

Project 3:25?

Beginner Swimmer at 25
5 months ago

C/C++ is the best programming language to learn when starting out because it has the fundamentals of an operating system and software. As Linus Torvalds said: “Nothing better than C.”

Last edited 5 months ago by Beginner Swimmer at 25
Reply to  Beginner Swimmer at 25
5 months ago

except no one uses it in practice

Reply to  john26
5 months ago

It’s highly likely you’re using software right now written in C and/or C++.

Reply to  Troyy
5 months ago

Ya, if you are accessing SwimSwam on a web browser, it is built on C++ (Chrome/Edge/Firefox).

Reply to  john26
5 months ago

The operating system you are using in your computer is written in it.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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