ENTRETIEN. Championnats d’Europe de natation : “Sans aides, je suis pessimiste pour l’avenir de la natation artistique française”, déplore Virginie Dedieu

ENTRETIEN. Championnats d'Europe de natation : "Sans aides, je suis pessimiste pour l'avenir de la natation artistique française", déplore Virginie Dedieu

The last time French artistic swimming emerged with a medal from an international championship, Laure Manaudou was still triumphing in the pools under the watchful eye of Philippe Lucas. It was in 2007, during the World Championship in Melbourne, Australia. Virginie Dedieu thus offered herself the last of her three solo world titles before retiring.

Fifteen years later, France has not won a medal in this discipline. However, with a new generation due to come of age in Paris for the 2024 Olympics, the European Championship, which begins on Thursday 11 August, is a test that may allow the Tricolors to finally regain a new charm. For franceinfo: sport, Virginie Dedieu returns to the reasons for such a long wait.

Franceinfo: Sport: Can we expect France to bring back a Rome medal this year in artistic swimming?

Virginia Dedieu: We clearly have a chance, because it’s more open without the Russians. We come from a World Cup where the French made a good impression and finished at the foot of the podium. Spain will not be either. Solo, Oriane Jaillardon has a high-flying program. She did not shine in Budapest (9th) but she has the means to get on the podium. Finally, alone, Eve Planix It’s our best shot at a medal.

How to explain such scarcity?

after my retirement [Virginie Dedieu a arrêté une première fois en 2005 avant de revenir en 2007, puis elle a repris lors des Mondiaux de Kazan en 2015, une dernière fois, pour le duo mixte], many girls have stopped. It takes a long time to go up, but we go down very fast.

French swimmer Virginie Dedieu, July 30, 2015, during the World Cup in Kazan (Russia).  (Cristobal Simon / AFP)

The problem with synchronized swimming is that a team will be strong when they work together for a long time. However, in France, this is not the case because we are not professional athletes, there are parallel studies. yesAt that time we trained 7 to 8 hours a day, today there are more than 5 to 6 hours of training every day. This translates into a loss in the results of the swimmers. The rest, once out of school, they leave artistic swimming because they cannot work full time and train at a high level at the same time.

In what Is the medium or long term so important in this discipline?

It takes several months to create a choreography. For it to be fully in place, a minimum of one year is needed. All this time, you have to have the team together to prepare and fine-tune the set. Then, from year to year, it will be necessary to increase the difficulty to succeed globally. A team that can claim something at the Olympic level, takes years.

“The Spanish were Olympic medalists in 2008 in Beijing for the first time. In 2004 they were finalists and in Sydney, in 2000, they missed out. It was the same team that stayed from start to finish. It took them three Olympics together to be medalists. That’s how long it takes to get there.”

Virginie Dedieu, triple world champion in artistic swimming

on franceinfo: sports

However, real momentum has been built with a view to Paris 2024. French swimmers will stretch their studies because they know this deadline exists. However, the global synchronization has become denser. There are countries that “didn’t exist” before and that now exist. Greece and Ukraine are among them.

Do swimmers not benefit from aids?

Today they have to select the contests because they don’t have the means to participate in all the ones they would like. There is a lack of help within the French federation, but it is also played at the level of the National Sports Agency, which has the money strings. In Italy, swimmers are in the navy and are therefore paid to practice their sport. It seems that until there is a medal opportunity, the assists are not there. But it is a vicious circle. We’re not going to get there with nothing.

Can the 2024 Paris Olympics build momentum?

I am pessimistic for the future if we don’t have help. I can talk about it because I am president of the Pays d’Aix swimming club. The high level is taught in the club. But it is going to cost us a lot to keep our coaches because they are poorly paid and there are very few of them. You have to inspire them. For swimmers, it’s the same, you have to be able to pay them.

At the level of the sponsors, it is not better. I was the only French sponsored for a long time. It allowed me to pay for my studies. He had 4,600 euros a year, andn be a triple world champion. Compared to other swimmers, just finishers, he was ridiculous.

The attraction of these European championships is also a first men’s solo event…

yes, in the worlds Series [la Coupe du monde qui se déroule toute l’année sur dix étapes]It started last year. But this is the first time in history in international championships. Quentin Rakotomalala, who comes from my house, in Aix-en-Provence, participates. It has all the possibilities.

How to explain that before there was no male competition?

At first, it is a rather feminine discipline. However, there have always been boys in France, but they were in the women’s sections. However, there was no access for men during the international championships. The first time was in 2015 with the introduction of the mixed duo. I hope it helps create vocations.


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