ANTIBES, France, September 22. ALAIN Bernard, one of the fastest 100 freestylers in history, made his retirement official yesterday at a celebration of his career hosted by the club he has represented for many years in Antibes.
“It's been 15 years since I wake up and everything is timed and plotted,” told the French newspaper Le Parisien. “Now, my life will be organized differently.” It's not clear what Bernard will do now that his competitive swimming career is over, but several reports have indicated that he will stay in touch regularly with his team in Antibes, offering support for the younger generation.
Bernard, 29, was one of the major names to emerge from the 2008 Olympics, as he was run down by Jason Lezak in the 400 freestyle relay, keeping the French from fulfilling their promise of a victory over the Americans. Bernard would return three days later to win gold in the 100 freestyle, as well as a bronze in the 50 freestyle. He had traded the world record with Australian Eamon Sullivan several times in 2008, last breaking it in March 2008 with a 47.50. He had swum a 46.94 in the 100 freestyle in 2009, but that world record swim was negated because he was wearing a swimsuit that had not yet been approved by FINA.
Bernard was unable to win another major championship after the Olympics, and barely made the 2012 Olympic team, swimming in the prelims of the 400 freestyle relay. As the French team won gold in the finals, he was able to gain some sense of redemption by also claiming a gold medal.
He ends his career as the fifth-fastest all-time in the 50 long course freestyle (21.23) and 100 long course freestyle (47.12).