The Return of the La Revanant: France Takes Day 4 Medals Lead at European Championships


It has been a rough decade for France in pool swimming, but right on cue they are gearing up in a big way for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

This week in Otopeni, Romania, at the 2023 European Short Course Swimming Championships, France already has won

That included a gold in the women’s 100 free from Beryl Gastaldello on Friday, their 6th of the meet so far, in her best performance in three years. She beat out Anna Hopkins and Freya Anderson from 2nd-ranked Great Britain, who finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively.

Later in the session, France got a 1-2 finish in the men’s 100 back led by Mewen Tomac. Then they finished with a tie-breaking gold from their newest elite swimmer, Russian convert Anastasia Kirpichnikova, crushing the French Record with a 15:20.12 (and winning by more than 17 seconds over legitimate competition that includes Simona Quadarella of Italy and Ajna Kesely of Hungary).

The list of successes also includes a French record from Maxime Grousset, who broke the French Record in the 100 fly earlier in the meet en route to a silver medal.

As French sports scientist and National Technique Consultant to the French Swimming Robin Pla has begun referring to this group as: “La Revenant” or “The Returning.”

The French swim team was once one of the best in the world, as is remembered by their men’s 400 free relay going toe-to-toe in the “Lezak Race” at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

A series of events, including the early retirement of Camille Muffat and some super-talents like Mehdy Metella not working out because of injury or other reasons, left them with a fairly-quiet decade in the pool.

France won 3 swimming medals at the 2016 Olympics (2 silvers and a bronze) to rank 17th on the table, and one of those was in open water. In Tokyo they won only a single medal in swimming when Florent Manaudou repeated for silver in the 50 free.

This week, with still two days of finals to go, they’ve had their best showing since the Chartres, France-hosted 2012 edition of the meet in the post-Olympic year, when a peak Yannick Agnel, Jeremy Stravius, and Camille Muffat carried them to the top of the medals table by a wide margin.

France’s medal history, European Short Course Championships:

Gold Silver Bronze Total
Otopeni 2023* 6 6 2 14
Kazan 2021 0 1 1 2
Glasdow 2019 2 5 2 9
Copenhagen 2017 1 2 5 8
Netanya 2015 0 1 1 2
Herning 2013 2 4 0 6
Chartres 2012 12 6 11 29

* – Through Day 4

And it’s youth and veterans, sprinters and distance swimmers, domestically-trained athletes and those who honed their skills overseas. It’s a whole ecosystem coming together for success.

We of course shouldn’t overstate the importance of a short course meet ahead of a long course Olympics, a continental championship, or a meet where not all of the continent’s top swimmers are present. But for a European SC meet, it is a pretty good field, and we have to remember that France is doing this without the guy who is their biggest medal threat at the Paris Olympics next year, Leon Marchand, who right now is favored to win 2-3 individual gold medals.

Timing is everything in sports, and France’s timing, ahead of a home Games, seems spot-on for 2024.

Day 4 Medal Winners:

Event Gold Silver Bronze
Men’s 200 IM Duncan Scott, GB – 1:50.98 Alberto Razzetti, Italy – 1:53.09
Danas Rapsys, Lithuania – 1:53.49
Women’s 100 Free Beryl Gastaldello, France – 51.48 Anna Hopkins, Great Britain, 51.66
Freya Anderson, Great Britain – 52.10
Men’s 100 Back Mewen Tomac, France – 49.72 Yohann Ndoye-Brouard, France – 49.96
(TIE) Lorenzo Mora, Italy/Andrei Ungur, Romania – 50.04
Women’s 200 Breast Tes Schouten, Netherlands – 2:16.09 Thea Blomsterberg, Denmark – 2:19.54
Kristyna Horska, Czech Republic – 2:19.63
Men’s 200 Fly Noe Ponti, Switzerland – 1:49.71 Alberto Razzetti, Italy – 1:50.10
Richard Marton, Hungary – 1:51.12
Women’s 50 Back Kira Toussaint, Netherlands – 25.82 Louise Hansson, Sweden – 26.23
Analia Pigree, France – 26.28
Women’s 1500 Free Anastasiia Kirpichnikova, France – 15:20.12 Simona Quadarella, Italy – 15:37.05
Ajna Kesely, Hungary – 15:51.34

Medals Table After Day 4 of the 2023 European SC Swimming Championships:

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Thomas Selig
2 months ago

Ha! Love the banter. GB will probably take over again after Day 5 though, looking at the schedule. GB should be fairly strong favourites for Gold in the women’s 100 back (Harris) and 200 IM (Wood), with decent chances for additional minor medals in those as well with Dawson and Shanahan. They also have chances in the men’s 200 free (Richards and Guy) and mixed free relay, where they should at the very least come away with medals. Also an outside chance in the men’s 50 fly (Peters).

France on the other hand have more limited finals presence with Moluh (W 100 back), Fuchs (M 200 free), Bonnet (W 200 IM), Grousset (M 50 fly) and probably the mixed… Read more »

2 months ago

Isn’it “Les Revenants” instead of “La Revanant” ?

Reply to  ooo
2 months ago

And I am ready to bet big moolah that they remember the 2012 relay much much better than the 2008 one.

Last edited 2 months ago by ooo

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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