28-year-old Olympic champion Florent Manaudou is back, returning to the pool after an over 2-year hiatus, joining the ranks of the International Swimming League (ISL) Energy Standard squad. According to L’Equipe, the 50m free gold medalist is now aiming for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after his stint with handball.
After his silver medal behind American Anthony Ervin in Rio, Manaudou released a statement concerning his official slowdown from the high-speed life of an aquatic sprinter, but stopped from pointing to outright retirement.
In September 2016 he said, “I have thus decided to take a break from my triple daily workouts (2 sessions of swimming and 1 session of weights), yet still remain an active swimmer who will compete in a few meets this year.”
One of those meets was the Championnats de France Militaire de Natation in March 2017. He raced his signature sprints of the 50m fly, 50m free and 50m breast, but has been quiet since. He commentated the 2017 World Championships and 2018 European Championships for French TV, but never got wet.
Flash forward to today and Manaudou says,
“I thought for months. I want to resume the competition. For some time, I miss it and more and more.
I had a lot of fun doing the things I wanted to do for a long time, which I couldn’t do when I was swimming.
But talking to my family, my former coaches, I set myself a challenge. I want to train again, have fun like I hadn’t done for the Rio games. Laure is one of the first people I spoke to “
Then he tells about the process that led him to return to competitive swimming.
“The process was done in several stages.
I was very happy to comment on the World Championships in Budapest (July 2017) and the European Championships in Glasgow (August 2018).
It was nice but I wanted to be downstairs. During the 50 m, it was a mixture of excitement, I tried to project myself, to tell me if I was there, what would I have done instead of that boy?
I spoke with James (Gibson, editor’s note – Energy Standard coach) .
He told me that I could still do something, that in Antalya (Turkey) for Energy Standard there were new structures, that the sport was evolving.
He concludes by saying that every five weeks he will go to Antalya to train until the 2020 Olympics. He will try to swim as much as possible, and closed by saying:
“I don’t even know what I can do.”
Manaudou will be surrounded by good company, as ISL Energy Standard has already announced team members as follows: Dutch sprinter Femke Heemskerk, Belarusian breaststroker Ilya Shymanovich, Lithuanian freestyle ace Danas Rapsys, Aussie backstroking weapon Emily Seebohm and Canadian breaststroker Kierra Smith.