The defending Olympic champion in the 200 meter free, Yannick Agnel of France, has accepted an opportunity to defend the event in Rio despite not technically qualifying for the French team at their National Championships.
Agnel told French publication RMS Sport on Sunday that while he’ll only swim one event, the 800 free relay, at the European Championships, he will swim both the relay and the 200 free individually at the Olympics.
Agnel seemingly finished 2nd to countryman Jeremy Stravius at the trials in the 200 free, and to the eye appeared ahead of Jordan Pothain. However, according to French Swimming officials, because Agnel hit the touchpad too low the results read as Stravius first, Pothain 2nd, and then Agnel in 3rd. Hours after the race Agnel attempted to appeal the times that were registered by the touchpads and back-up timers in lieu of the video evidence, though the video was not considered “official,” and Agnel’s appeal was denied.
However, 2nd-place-finisher Jordan Pothain announced shortly after the meet that he would bow out of the 200 free individually in favor of focusing on the 400 free for which he’d also qualified for Rio. According to Pothain’s coach Guy La Rocca, the goal was always to qualify in the 400 free and the 4 x 200 relay. Pothain and La Rocca also said that the additional event on the schedule would possibly be too much for the first-time Olympian Pothain to handle.
Agnel has expressed his gratitude both to Pothain for the opportunity to defend his Olympic title, and to the designers of the Olympic program for putting the 400 free prelims and finals and the 200 free prelims on consecutive days.