Germany’s Lukas Märtens is making a change in training focus in the lead up to the Paris Olympics. After a strong showing in July at the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka, earning bronze in the 400 free and taking 5th in the 800 and 1500 free, he has targeted middle-distance as the focus of his training.
In the October edition of Swim&More, published by the German Swimming Association (DSV), national coach Bernd Berkhahn said, “In Fukuoka, Lukas really wanted to try out his full range again. Afterwards he saw how fast his 200 meter freestyle was as the starting swimmer in the relay; the time would have been enough for fourth place in the final. And if we now give more attention to it and he pushes the 1500 meters away, out of training and out of his head, then everything can develop a little further.”
In his lead-off leg of Germany’s 4×200 free relay, Märtens touched the wall at 1:44.79, lowering his best time by more than six-tenths. He did not swim the 200 free individually in Fukuoka.
Märtens was recently announced as a member of Germany’s roster for the 2024 World Aquatics Championships, giving him just 159 days between the World Championships in Doha, Qatar, and the start of the 2024 Olympics in Paris on July 26. Märtens will not swim the 1500 free in Doha but plans for it to be among his events in Paris.
“I explained to Lukas that it is good for his base if he swims the 1500 meters – but we shouldn’t swim it at international highlights because the training then has to be very broad. I also see potential for development in the 400 meter freestyle. By concentrating on fewer routes, you can get a few percentage points more here too. In the end, many starts are of no use if you don’t win a medal.”
In his Olympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Games, Märtens placed 7th as a member of the German men’s 4×200 free relay, and also took 11th in the 1500 free, 12th in the 400 free, and 18th in the 200 free (after losing a swim-off for first alternate) individually.
Märtens broke out in 2022 with early performances highlighting his rare ability to compete at the highest level in events ranging from the 200 to 1500 free. In March 2022, he took nearly seven seconds off his lifetime best in the 1500 free by stopping the clock at 14:40.28, making him the 11th fastest performer to-date. Then in April at the 2022 Stockholm Open, Märtens placed first in the 200, 400, and 800 free and shot up to the top of the world rankings for the year. His 3:41.60 in the 400 free made Märtens the #8 performer of all time.
Last month at the Berlin stop of the 2023 Swimming World Cup, Märtens placed 4th in prelims of the 400 free (3:50.61) before withdrawing from finals due to illness along with his training partner Florian Wellbrock.