Florent Manaudou Punches Three-Diamonds Deal With Arena On Tokyo 2020 Comeback Trail

Florent Manaudou Foto Gian Mattia D'Alberto/LaPresse 06 Ottobre 2019 Indianapolis, Stati Uniti sport nuoto 2019 ISL - International Swimming League, la seconda giornata a Indianapolis Nella foto: Florent Manaudou FRA Photo Gian Mattia D'Alberto/LaPresse October 6, 2019 Indianapolis, United States sport swimming 2019 ISL - International Swimming League, the second day in Indianapolis In the picture: Florent Manaudou FRA
Florent Manaudou - back in the aquatic arena Photo Courtesy: Gian Mattia D'Alberto/LaPresse

Florent Manaudou, the Olympic 50m freestyle champion of 2012 on the comeback trail, has joined Team arena on the trail to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and his third Games campaign.

London 2012 gold was followed by Rio 2016 silver. And then, he quit. Manaudou vowed never to return. He played  handball and the closest he got to the water was when he commentated on the 2017 World Championships for French television.

Then, in 2018, at the water whispered to him once more and along came the International Swimming League, opportunity at Energy Standard and a chance to work once more with coach James Gibson, his mentor at Marseille on the way to London 2012.

This weekend in London, Manaudou will race for Energy in the professional League’s European Derby. His role in skins will be critical to his teams battle with London Roar in the match with Iron and Aqua also vying for a place in the ISL Final Match in Las Vegas on the cusp of Christmas.

The 28-year-old Frenchman, who between 2013 and 2016 amassed four world and six European titles on freestyle and butterfly and in short-course racing broke the world 50m backstroke record and excelled on breaststroke too, said of a deal that takes him past Tokyo 2020:

“It’s a new adventure and it’s great for me. I’m really happy to be back racing this year, and I feel stronger with the support of arena. I wore arena Jammers at Sette Colli (in June 2019) and I was happy with my time. For me, the Carbon Technology is without doubt the best on the market and I love the Carbon Flex VX, but I am sure that the best is yet to come. I feel very confident that arena and their swimwear & equipment will give me unprecedented support and belief for my Olympic challenge.”


Pre-teens, Florent Manaudou spent as much time on the handball court as he did in the pool, but when he decided to focus exclusively on swimming at the age of 13, his older brother Nicolas guided him to his first significant title in 2007, the French Junior 50m freestyle title. But it would take another four years to
start appearing regularly on the international stage, starting out with his first World Championships in Shanghai 2011, where he finished fifth in the 50m butterfly.

Later that year he made a big decision to move south, joining sister Laure at the Cercle des nageurs de Marseille under coach Romain Barnier. On the way to London 2012, he worked in the sprint group guided by Gibson, the 2003 World 50m breaststroke champion turned coach.

Manaudou claimed Olympic gold at London 2012 from lane 7. Victory wrote new lines in swimming history: he was the first Frenchman to win an Olympic title in the dash; his 21.34sec blast was the fastest time in history in a textile suit; and the moment marked the first time siblings had won swimming gold medals at the Olympic Games.

Photo Courtesy: LaureManadouDesign.com

His sister Laure became the first French swimming champion among women when she claimed gold over 400m freestyle at the 2004 Games in Athens.

At the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona, Manaudou missed the medals in the freestyle and butterfly dash finals but took home gold as a member of the French 4x100m freestyle quartet.

Four gold medals at the 2014 European Championships (50m & 100m freestyle, 50m butterfly, 4x100m freestyle) heralded his arrival as a superstar sprinter. That same year there were six medals at the World Short-Course Championships in Doha, the podiums including three golds and two world records (50m freestyle, 50m backstroke), both of which still stand to this today.

Come the summer of 2015 and Manaudou was in mighty form: golds in the 50m freestyle, 50m butterfly, and 4x100m freestyle at world titles in Kazan were capped by a scorching textile world record in the 50m freestyle – 21.19.


Florent Manaudou – Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Rio 2016 and the defence of his Olympic crown was on, three gold medals at the 2016 European Championships in London confirming that. Then history came back to win the day: at Rio 2016, Manaudou was out-touched by one-hundredth of a second by Anthony Ervin, the Sydney 2000 champion back for gold 16 years later as the oldest Olympic champion in the pool. For Manaudou, there was a second silver, in tyhe 4x100m freestyle with France mates.

In September of 2016, Florent Manaudou decided to put his swimming career on hold to pursue his passion for handball. He played for the Aix-en-Provence club and found the team element of it a relief from the singular spotlight of alpha-male sprinter in the pool. That year, he opened a restaurant called La Piscine in Marseille with two friends.


The water won out. Manaudou announced his return to swimming in March 2019. In his first meet in nearly 3 years – at Rome’s Sette Colli in June – he swam a speedy 21.72 in the 50m freestyle, a touch adrift World Championship silver medallist and fellow arena Elite Team member, Bruno Fratus, of Brazil.

This weekend, Manaudou will race for the Energy Standard Team at the London round of the International Swimming League (ISL). If all goes well, he will then join Energy in Las Vegas (December 20-21) at the Final Match of the first Pro-Global Team League in swimming history.

Before then, December delivers more action, in Glasgow at the European Short Course Championships (December 4-8) and in Angers for the French Short-Course Championships (December 12-15).

Giuseppe Musciacchio, arena co-CEO, said of the news signing:

“Florent has already proven himself to be one of the great French sprinters in a country that specializes in these disciplines and we believe he still has more to show the swimming world. We love the idea of being at his side in this exciting comeback story. With Florent back in the pool, sprint events in Tokyo will surely make bigger waves.”


  • BORN: 12th November, 1990 in Villeurbanne, France COACH: James Gibson / Julien Jacquier
  • CLUB: Energy Standard International Swimming Club, Antalya (Turkey) / CN Marseille, France
  • 2016 Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) – Silver: 50m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle
  • European Championships, London (UK) – Gold: 50m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle Silver: 4x100m medley
  • 2015 World Championships, Kazan (Russia) – Gold: 50m freestyle, 50m butterfly, 4x100m freestyle
  • 2014 European Championships, Berlin (Germany) – Gold: 50m & 100m freestyle, 50m butterfly, 4x100m freestyle
  • World Short Course Championships, Doha (Qatar) – Gold: 50m freestyle, 50m backstroke, 4x100m freestyle Silver: 100m freestyle, 4x50m medley, Bronze: 4x100m medley
  • 2013 World Championships, Barcelona (Spain) – Gold: 4x100m freestyle
  • 2012 Olympic Games, London (UK) – Gold: 50m freestyle
  • World Short Course Championships, Istanbul (Turkey) – Silver: 50m freestyle Bronze: 50m breaststroke


  • Family: French father Jean-Luc was a left-handed handball player and his Dutch mother Olga was a badminton champion.
  • Hobbies: Cinema and playing guitar.
  • Favourite films: The Intouchables, Les Petit Mouchoirs (Little White Lies), The Wolf of Wall Street.
  • Between 2014 and 2018, Florent played roles in 3 different French TV series.
  • Best bands: ACDC, Kanye West, JAYZ, The Who.