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World swimming championships: facing the extraterrestrial Popovici, Maxime Grousset in ambush in the 100 meter freestyle

Maxime Grousset has itchy fingertips. In June 2022, the new reigning world vice-champion in the 100m freestyle had tickled the Romanian emperor David Popovici in Budapest, missing gold by 6 hundredths, in other words not even half a phalanx (47 s 64 for the Frenchman, against 47 s 58 for his 18-year-old junior). “For the first ten minutes, I was disgusted that I had lost on the sidelines. [sur la zone qui stoppe le chronomètre], explained the 24-year-old sprinter to the Worldat the end of April, three months before the Worlds in Fukuoka, where he entered the race on Wednesday July 26 in the queen race, after having won bronze in the 50m butterfly on Monday. But very quickly, I only kept the positive. I understood that vice-world champion was good. »

Read also: Swimming World Championships: Maxime Grousset bronze medalist in 50 butterfly meters

World champion, it would obviously be even better. In Japan, the strategist of 1.92 meters (for 92 kilos) hopes to get out of the woods at the right time to spice up an announced duel between Popovici and his Australian rival Kyle Chalmers. Even if the three men were overtaken this season by the 18-year-old Chinese Pan Zhanle, author of 47 s 22 during the national championships, in Hangzhou, at the beginning of May.

World record holder over the distance (46 s 86) since the European Championships in August 2022 in Rome, Popovici knows he is expected in the Marine Messe basin in Fukuoka. “He will be less surprised than in Budapest. More than destabilizing him, the idea is to simply beat him, by putting yourself on his level. I don’t think he’s unbeatable, but he’s going to be very hard to beat, and he’s not the only one.”, said his French dolphin, aware of the current density on the round trip, even in the absence of the Russians for the second year in a row and the reigning Olympic champion, Caeleb Dressel. After missing the 2022 Worlds to treat depression, the American failed to qualify for the Japanese deadline.

We had to work the somersault

Crouching comfortably in the shadow of his compatriot Léon Marchand, Grousset knows he has a card to play one year from the Olympic Games at home. This season, Michel Chrétien’s protege has taken care of his start and his turns, his weak points so far in a race where the slightest mistake is paid for in cash. “The start, that’s it, it’s acquired. And on the bend, it went from red to orange,” image his trainer at the National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance (Insep). “Tactically there are things to try, nothing is written in advance”says Michel Chrétien.

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