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Eight Swimmers from Top French Team, CS Clichy 92, Will Swim in Athens -- August 6, 2004

PARIS, August 5. THE CS Clichy 92 Swim Club -- the number one-ranked team in France -- is looking to have a big impact in Greece. A total of eight swimmers, including world champion Alena Popchanka of Belarus and short course world record-holder Fred Bousquet, have qualified for and will compete in the Olympic Games.

"The politics of our team are very simple," says president Gerard Durant. "We support each swimmer's desires and efforts to achieve his own goals at his own choices. That’s why most of our swimmers train outside the club. They are only required to race twice a year with us. In the USA, we have Bousquet, Mellouli, Moreau, Tavernier. James Hickman and Adam Whitehead train in England, Darian Tonwsend in South Africa, and the three Belarussian girls are in France."

For the first time, swimmers from abroad came to train in France under professionnal contracts, like basketball or soccer. "It’s a really hard job, but this is the way to show our French swimmers the real world of swimming and I think our entire swimming community can derive benefits from those actions. If you put the fastest swimmers together to race, they will swim faster. That wasn’t the case in France before."

Last year, coach Fred Vergnoux was under contract with the CS Clichy 92 for preparing athletes for the World Championships in Barcelona; when Popchanka took gold, it marked the first world title for the French club.

"This was a big challenge for us, to allow a coach to work with one athlete and a training partner, but we wanted Alena Popchanka to experience the best preparation possible’, says Durant. "We did it again this year for the Olympic Games."

Coach Vergnoux became the first foreign national swimming coach for Belarus after Popchanka took her title in Barcelona. He will be part of the Belarussian delegation in Greece.

"We had seven swimmers at last year's World Championships, and we've got eight going at the Olympic Games next week in Athens. This is the biggest representation ever for a French swimming club, and it’s already a big achivement for us.

"Of course, we expect some fast swim from Bousquet after his world record in the 50 freestyle; from Popchanka, who will race three events; from Mellouli, who is looking at a medal in the medley events. But most important for us is to watch all our swimmers racing for their own countries."

The CS Clichy 92 Team in Athens :

Alena Popchanka (BLR) : 100 and 200 free, 100 fly

Hanna Scherba (BLR) : 200 IM, relay 4x100 free

Mariya Scherba (BLR) : relay 4x100 free

Fred Bousquet (FRA) : 50 and 100 free, 100 fly, relay 4x100 free

Darian Townsend (RSA) : 200 free, relay 4x100 free

James Hickman (GBR) : 100 fly

Julien Sicot (FRA) : 50 free, relay 4x100 free

Oussama Mellouli (TUN) : 200 and 400 IM, 1500 free