Thanks to Schedule Change, Leon Marchand Has Chance at Four Gold Medals in Paris

Leon Marchand of France celebrates after winning the gold medal in the 200m Butterfly Men Final during the 20th World Aquatics Championships at the Marine Messe Hall A in Fukuoka (Japan), July 26th, 2023.
Leon Marchand -- Photo Courtesy: Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Thanks to Schedule Change, Leon Marchand Has Chance at Four Gold Medals in Paris

Over the past two years, Leon Marchand has established himself as the world’s dominant force in both individual medley races, winning two world titles over both 200 and 400 meters while shattering the world record in the 400 IM, the last such global mark owned by Michael Phelps. Last year, Marchand also added a world title in the 200 butterfly, but while his breaststroke is undoubtedly among the world’s elite, he has never had a chance to race the 200 breast at a major international competition.

At the World Championships, the 200 breast conflicts with the 200 IM, and on the originally-announced schedule for the 2024 Olympics, the 200 breast and 200 fly finals would take place back-to-back on the fifth night of competition, seemingly eliminating any chance that Marchand would swim both and go for four individual events in ParisBob Bowman, Marchand’s coach at Arizona State University, indicated that he and his star pupil would have to make a decision between the two races.

But a late change to the lineup might chance the calculus for Marchand in advance of the Olympics. Now, it looks like there will be more than an hour between the two races at the Games.

This week, USA Swimming announced a change to the Olympic Trials lineup that included the women’s 200 fly semifinal and men’s 200 breast final switching places. The Trials schedule is designed to mirror that of the Olympics, so now, Marchand could race the 200 fly final in the second race of the session and the 200 breast in the seventh race.

No double is ideal when chasing Olympic gold, especially when top 200 breast competitors such as world-record holder Qin Haiyang of China and defending champion Zac Stubblety-Cook of Australia would be coming in fresh, but a break of around an hour between events would give Marchand a legitimate shot. Even in a situation with two finals in one session, he would be favored to reach the podium and be a significant threat for gold in both events.

There is precedence for a swimmer racing two individual Olympic finals in one night. At the 2008 and 2012 Games, Ryan Lochte swam both the 200 backstroke and 200 IM, and on both occasions, he reached the podium in the back-to-back races. However, Lochte’s chances at winning gold in the 200 IM were surely hampered by swimming the 200 back immediately beforehand; even in 2012, when Lochte entered as world-record holder, he could not compete with a fresh Phelps in the Olympic final.

In Paris, Marchand will be bidding to become only the fourth man ever to win three or more individual gold medals at one Olympics. The only previous male swimmers to reach that total were Mark Spitz (four in 1972), Phelps (four in 2004 and five in 2008) and Caeleb Dressel (three in 2021).

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Kanga1
Kanga1
1 month ago

It would be a remarkable achievement, especially poignant infront of a home crowd. So I hope he can do it!

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