Yannick Agnel Given the Opportunity to Defend 200 Free Title in Rio

France’s Yannick Agnel (Mulhouse Olympic Natation) may defend his 2012 OIympic title in the 200 free after all.

The French Federation (FFN) held a press conference this morning to announce the men and women who will represent France at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, following their Olympic Trials last week. The French swimming world has been in suspended disbelief since last Wednesday when Agnel appeared very clearly to finish second in the 200 free final behind Jérémy Stravius, but clocked the third-fastest time after touching the pad too low. (See our coverage here.)

Since then there has been a great deal of speculation as to how the FFN would deal with the situation. Jordan Pothain, who was the official silver medalist, said in a press conference with Agnel’s coach Lionel Horter, that he believed he had touched third. Pothain later notched a FINA A cut when he won the 400 free, making him a good bet to be selected to the French roster anyway. But then things got complicated again when Agnel said in an interview with Sport365.fr that he would refuse an invitation to swim the 200 free individually in order to concentrate on his 200 free in the 4×200 relay, saying: “Today, with 1:46.4, which I think I swam [Editor’s note: Agnel’s official third-place time was 1.46.99.], I am not competitive to medal. If I am selected, that’s very nice, but that won’t keep me from turning down the individual 200 free to concentrate on the 4×200 relay, which has a strong chance to medal.”Jacques Favre press conference 6 April 2016

With all that as the background, National Technical Director Jacques Favre said in this morning’s press conference, “There will be a place reserved for Yannick Agnel in the 200 free after we discuss it with him.” (“Sur le 200m nage libre, une place sera réservée à Yannick Agnel après avoir discuté avec lui.”)

It is understood that Pothain stepped aside in the 200 to allow this scenario to play out. He will swim the 400 free individually and be on France’s 4×200 free relay in Rio.

Agnel has not yet decided if he will accept the individual selection. He told Infosport+, “I will do everything I can to be in top form [for the 200]. If I don’t feel I can be competitive in the individual race, I will step aside.” (“Je vais tout donner pour être en forme. Si je ne me sens compétitif sur l’individuel je me désisterai.”)

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bobo gigi
6 years ago

And now some French media like L’Equipe say there are too many qualified swimmers for Rio.
They also say that Agnel should not have been saved.
Hilarious. 😆

masters swimmer
Reply to  bobo gigi
6 years ago


The situation with Agnel last week was pretty stressful and depressing for me (an American), because of the memory of Agnel’s dominant performance in London. I went back and watched the video of the 200 free final and the 4×100 free relay. Also, as I recall, MP even mentioned after anchoring the 4×200 free relay that he was relieved to have a healthy lead on Agnel when he dove into the water. For swimming fans we love to see our nation’s swimmers win, but equally important, we love to see true champions who raise the level of competition for everyone. I just have a lot of respect for Agnel and hope to see him in top form in London.… Read more »

6 years ago

This is going to be more unpopular than a Bobo’s comment 🙂 but Pothain had a wider margin for improvement in the 200 in my opinion. He is clearly on the rise.

Still, I am glad for Agnel. I really am.

Question for Bobo: why didn’t Stravius take on the IM? He is so versatile and so technical, looks to me like the perfect IM swimmer.

Reply to  Luigi
6 years ago

Actually, Stravius is a good 200 IMer, but not in the league of Phelps, Lochte, Hagino or Cseh. I think he is right to think he has a better chance at a medal in the free than the IM.

I was very impressed with Pothain, especially that he could finish third in a tough field without kicking hard for the first 150. It is good that he be selected for Rio given, as you say, his potential. This year however, and perhaps for the next two years or so, I think he has more potential in the 400 than the 200.

6 years ago

Agnel has not confirmed yet if he will swim the 200. Probably will depend on results at the Euros in May.

Comparing his 200 final in London with the recent Trials, he had a much stronger/more efficient first 50 in London than in Montpellier. And the last 50 in London was almost 1.5 sec faster; while in Montpellier he couldn’t accelerate, in London he clearly got into a higher gear with a stroke rate of 95+ vs. 89-90.

He looks physically stronger now, so maybe the cardiovascular part looks like the problem. He could get into the high 1.45 perhaps. Not enough for a medal. I think he will probably focus on the relay where France can do very well.

6 years ago

The 200 free in Rio will be an extremely tight field. However, if Agnel gets in that final he just may still have a shot at winning it due to experience and being one of the only people to drop a 1:43 since the ban of the super suit. He still may have it in him.

6 years ago

The whole thing was such a black eye for the French Swimming Federation. Disgraceful treatment to a swimmer of Yannick’s caliber. Continuing a narrative of “he touched too low on the pad” is terrible.

Jacques Swim
6 years ago

What I found utterly hysterical about last week’s drama on this site is that so many Americans were so gullible enough to be swept into France’s own pretend crisis.
Reading those comments made me ROTFL.

team Rwanda
6 years ago

Is it still possible for Giacomo Perez Dortona to qualify if he swims under FINA A cut at Euros. I remember no one made the that cut in the 100 breast

team Rwanda
Reply to  team Rwanda
6 years ago

Sorry, this was meant as a question.

Jacques Swim
Reply to  team Rwanda
6 years ago

Haven’t you realized anything yet?
For France, nothing is impossible 🙂

6 years ago

So all the drama with their ‘tough’ cuts was for nothing. They ended up taking everyone who got top 2 and achieved the Fina A standard. Why didn’t they just say that (like USA does) and be done with it. The best thing about our sport is that the National teams aren’t picked by politics but by who gets their hand on the wall first!

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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