When Leon Marchand, a “hungry kid,” threatened to break his one remaining individual swimming world record, Olympic hero Michael Phelps claimed it was “greedy” of him to do so.
Marchand trains with the Americans’ longtime coach Bob Bowman and is not far off the 400 IM world record that Phelps has held for the past 20 years.
The 20-year-old French swimmer won the gold medal at the world championships in Budapest in August with the second-fastest 400-meter medley time in history (4 minutes, 4.28 seconds).
Phelps, 37, said at the Paris “Demain Le Sport” (Sports Tomorrow) event that Leon is “one to watch.”
He’s just a hungry little kid who wants to be the best and break the world record, and since he’s only a few tenths off from doing so, obviously…
But I’m going to be greedy and try to hold the record for one more year to make it to 21 years, fingers crossed.
Phelps first shattered that record with a time of 4:11.09 in Fort Lauderdale in August 2002, and he did so once more in April 2003, when he won the gold medal at the Olympics in Beijing.
“Only time can tell. He’s got a lot of tools, for sure,” added Phelps, who owns the record for most Olympic medals with 28, of which 23 are gold.
He is such an excellent racer. With the competitiveness you get into, like a dogfight in a race, he reminds me a lot of myself.
“It’s all about tempo and stroke. He’s with a great coach named Bob, who coached me throughout my entire career.
“I’m interested in seeing what he does here at the Olympics in Paris as well as what he does at the world championships next year.”
Over the course of two decades, Phelps set 29 world records; today, he only holds two of them, including the second he set with the US team in the men’s 4100m freestyle relay en route to the Olympic gold in Beijing.
In the 200m butterfly, where Phelps had previously held the record for ten years until 2019, the Hungarian Kristof Milk has twice broken it.
“Milak would absolutely destroy me in the 200 fly, so I’m glad I’m not swimming it anymore. It’s impressive to watch him reach 1.50, said the American who retired in 2016.
However, he considers Romanian David Popovici to be the sport’s up-and-coming star after he broke the 100m freestyle record with a time of 46.86 at the world championships in August and is now edging closer to the 200m freestyle milestone.
“Popovici is going to be the first person to break 1.42 (200m free); that record was thought to be unbreakable, in my opinion.
“Popovici is the only person on the planet who will descend. The young man is 18; it’s only a matter of time before he swims even faster.