Watch: Laure Manaudou’s 200 Freestyle World Record From 2007

Laure Manaudou is widely regarded as one of the greatest French swimmers of all time. She first reared her head as a 17 year-old, becoming the first French woman to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming at the 2004 Athens Games. She racked up a total of 3 medals at the Games; gold in the 400m freestyle, silver in the 800m freestyle and bronze in the 100m backstroke.

France coined her as ‘La Sirène’ (The Mermaid) that year, as before the ’04 Games she had also won 3 gold medals at the European Championships in Madrid, Spain. Her winning form continued over the next number of years; resulting in her breaking Janet Evans’ 18 year-old 400m freestyle world record at the 2006 European Championships in Budapest.

2007 World Record Swim and What Followed

This world record-breaking swim added to what was a fantastic run in these championships for Manaudou. Annika Lurz of Germany kept with her pace throughout, but Manaudou’s high stroke-rate and strength off the walls resulted in gold for her here.

In total, Manaudou came away from this event with 5 medals and the WR; 2 gold (400+200 free), 2 silver (100 back+800 free) and a bronze (4x200m freestyle relay).

This year was unfortunately riddled with disruption for Manaudou’s training set up. A month after the Melbourne World Championships, she left her long-time coach Phillipe Lucas to train in Italy. The move came after Manaudou revealed her relationship with Italian swimmer Luca Marin, which fuelled her decision to train in Turin, Italy.

Shortly after her move, Manaudou left the Italian club following a dispute and returned back to France to train under her brother Nicholas, who was also training her younger brother Florent Manaudou at the time.

The following months were tumultuous for Manaudou. Although she managed to post some stellar swims at the European SC Championships in December later that year (winning the 100 back+400 free), her relationship with Marin came to an abrupt end during the meet. An argument resulted in her throwing away her engagement ring that Marin had given to her.

The testing year of 2007, which consisted of her changing coaches twice and her personal life causing difficulties, resulted in a disappointing performance for her at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. She finished 8th in the 400m freestyle, an event where she was defending Olympic champion.

Manaudou announced her retirement in September 2009 after not competing in the World Championships in Rome a few months previous. She made a come-back a couple years later and competed at the 2012 Olympic Games. Her brother winning Olympic gold meant they became the first sibling Olympic champions in the sport.

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Togger
1 year ago

In a world which had already seen Thorpe and Phelps pioneer a massive six beat kick for a full 200, crazy that Manadou dominated the world record looking like she could do the same time with a pull buoy.

Joe
1 year ago

Who was better?

Upvote Laure
Downvote Florent

Jeff
Reply to  Joe
1 year ago

Laure was insane at her best. She had a similar schedule to Ledecky plus the 100 backstroke at 2007 worlds.
Florent does not compare. He’s great at 50s and good at 100s but not much else.

wokebanana
Reply to  Jeff
1 year ago

And yet Florent has set world records in two strokes, tons of world textile bests, and WC gold in every stroke except breaststroke. They’re each great in their own respect.

Person
1 year ago

Clearly it works, since she set a world record at the time. But does her head position look positively painful to anyone else? She seems to be all about turnover.

Swum
Reply to  Person
1 year ago

Her coach Phillppe Lucas isn’t the kind of coach who teach swimmers at what degree the head should stay or “details” like this but he gave them an incredible endurance basis mixed with some Sprints to power them up and clearly make the swimmers dream big.
As he says “they need to have confidence so I make them very very hard training sets so they can realise how strong they can be. ”
I swam with some of his athletes and they all says that 20+km per day was something common, but that’s what’s make him the best open water coach in the world imo.

FSt
Reply to  Swum
1 year ago

I think that’s debatable by today’s standards. Yes, it does still work for OW swimmers but in the pool, Laure was at the tail end of the volume-based training era. Today’s elite trains differently. I remember in Würzburg they used to train like that. Get in, swim 10x1000m, get out. Same again in the afternoon. Made Thomas Lurz and his former sister-in-law, Annika (second place here), but at some point you’ll hit the ceiling with that. A solid aerobic base is important, even today, but you can’t train like that forever and expect improvement.

Swum
Reply to  FSt
1 year ago

Totally agree, as Romain Barnier says “this type of training can produce excellent athletes but if you’re not made for this, that will destroy you”

FSt
1 year ago

Totally forgot about Annika. She had such an odd career. Nobody had ever heard of her until she was like 26, then had 2 good years, and then disappeared again…

And lol to the whole Filippo/Laure/Luca/Fede love chaos. Forgot about that as well.

Great meet for the 200free ladies though! To think that Franzi had held the World Record for almost 13 years before Fede broke it in the semis the day before… and then Laure and Annika completely shattered it by over a second in the finals.

Aquajosh
1 year ago

She was, for my money, the most talented female swimmer the world has seen since Caulkins. If she would have hung on with Lucas through 2008, I believe she would have left Beijing with at least five more individual Olympic medals.

The breakup with Marin was ugly, and she was never the same after he became romantically involved with her biggest rival (Pellegrini) and those private photos were released. I don’t think it was a coincidence that either of those things happened. All of it turned her personal anguish into tabloid fodder for the French and Italian press, and she couldn’t escape it.

She was well on her way to being the first under 4:00 and as untouchable as Ledecky.… Read more »

FSt
Reply to  Aquajosh
1 year ago

She cheated on Luca with Filippo and Luca reacted like a complete a$$. And my god, Fede could not leave well enough alone. When Laure tried her comeback, Fede got involved with Filippo. Forget Chad’s warm up antics in Phelp’s face… Hooking up with not one but two of your greatest rival’s exes brings the pre-race psych game to a whole new level.

But yes, she was so, so talented!

Anonymoose
Reply to  FSt
1 year ago

huh thats interesting, never knew that about pellegrin. not surprising in the slightest tho

Swum
Reply to  Aquajosh
1 year ago

The was amazing but I really don’t see her making a podium on the 100m free or swimming less than 4 min in the 400m.
The whole thing about her personal life is so sad because I realise that we remember the boyfriends story’s as much as her athletic performances

Aquajosh
Reply to  Swum
1 year ago

She was training to break 4:00 and believed she could do it. It’s because of Manaudou that the 400 is a long sprint rather than an event to be negative split. She would take it out in 1:58 when girls in the US could win the 200 at Nationals with that time. As for the 100 free, she never really swam it seriously, but when she was well past her prime in 2012, she swam a 56.5 at a Sectionals meet where she only could go 1:59 for the 200, so I don’t think it’s a stretch to say she could have gotten in the range for a medal in the 100, especially back when her 200 was a 1:55.… Read more »

swimfast
1 year ago

1:55 in the 200 free, 4:02 in the 400, and second woman ever to break 1:00 in the 100 back. very strange, very impressive set of accomplishments

ooo
Reply to  swimfast
1 year ago

I think she also had the 1500 scm WR back in 2004, together with a very swift 50 bck. Surprised she never considered the 200 bck when she was at her peak.