At the 2012 Olympics in London French coach Fabrice Pellerin was on top of the world as his two star athletes, Yannick Agnel and Camille Muffat, both stood on top of the medal podium collecting Olympic gold for France. Agnel won the 200 freestyle while Muffat took the gold in the 400 freestyle and the silver in the 200 freestyle.
Since that success both Agnel and Pellerin chosen to move one from the guidance of their long term coach.
In May of 2013 Agnel decided to leave Nice and train at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club. Then in July Muffat made the decision to retire at the age of 24. Both swimmers had trained under Pellerin since they were in their early teens.
When Agnel left in 2013 he stated in a press conference that he was looking for a different environment in Baltimore, “I want to find with Bob Bowman what was lacking in Nice: warmth, sharing, sincerity,” said Agnel.
“Fabrice has always wanted to avoid that. He always wanted to put distance between himself and his swimmers. It is a choice that I respect and that works, I’m a double Olympic champion and I owe it to him.”
In an article published today Pellerin told L’equipe that he knows that his uncompromising approach has been one of the reasons that his charges have made certain decisions about their future, “I’ve paid the price, I lost swimmers,” said Pellerin.
He also told the publication that he believes his attitude is one of the biggest reasons for his success and that he does not plan on changing it.
Pellerin was also open about how he felt when he found out that Agnel made the decision to leave Baltimore and train with Lionel Horter in Mulhouse,“I would have liked [Yannick] to come back, I let him know that. We don’t know everything here, but for seven years he grew up before my eyes, working every day. There are things that can’t be learned afterwards. You can’t just improvise. Not in Baltimore, not anywhere else.”
It would seem that Pellerin feels Agnel needs the type of structure he was able to provide; only time will tell if that proves to be correct.