“This is the place where you can lose or lose a race. A unique moment suspended in time. We are sitting in a small room and we know that there will be one winner… and seven losers.“, mischievously recalls Camille Lacourt, the triple French world champion in the 50-meter backstroke. In Rome, where the European Swimming Championships are held (from August 11 to 22), as elsewhere, the room Its appeal does not leave anyone indifferent, marking the bathers who enter it for life, for better or for worse.
A closed room, eight chairs, one for each competitor, and a television with the other races live. In these almost spartan conditions the swimmers find themselves, in competition, until half an hour before being called by the announcer to do battle in the water. A few square meters reserved exclusively for competitors, literally and figuratively.
Inside, each one has its own style, depending on the nationality, like the clubs. “All the Marseillais were very demonstrative [à la fin des années 2000] in the call room, the Americans are going to be very exuberant, the English bored. If they can sit in your chair, they will. and look at you”details Michel Chrétien, current coach of Yohann Ndoye Brouard and Maxime Grousset at Insep.
The current world runner-up in the 100-meter freestyle in Budapest is one of those on display. “Maximum [Grousset] he’s going to be exuberant, he’s going to show off his pecs, he’s going to make noise“, details the former mentor of Jéremy Stravius. Quite the opposite of the support, with a more reserved character.
Profiles like the one from New Caledonia, Camille Lacourt has met throughout her career. Stravius’ rival in the late 2000s has admitted to martyring some too-energetic young shoots for her taste along the way. “In front of the guys who were playing bouncers, my game was to take them down completely. If the guy hit his pecs in front of me, I could yell ‘Oh my God, he’s too strong, this isn’t worth it.’ swimming boys, he is too powerful. I loved. Especially when it came to young people, they didn’t expect such a reaction.”
“Brazilian César Cielo was really the puppet in the call room. In the relays he always tried to speak louder, to show himself”.Camille Lacourt, triple world champion in the 50 meter backstroke
on franceinfo: sport
Prevention, Michel Chrétien also does it with his young sprinter. “There are those who will stare at their opponents, but you must not go too far. It can backfire. Maxime [Grousset]I warned him: ‘you are going to come across this or that bather, be careful with that'”. A situation that he certainly knows less about with the recent European champion of the 200m backstroke, Yohann Ndoye Brouard. Hood on his head, helmet on his ears, the Frenchman traces his route, for fear of losing affluence.
But strange birds, the international basin has many. The 21-year-old Frenchman tells. “american ryan murphy [quadruple champion olympique]arrives with hat, gloves, jacket heating, toupees and does not talk to anyone“, laughs the Savoyard before moving on to the relief of the Italian back”.Thomas Ceccon at the World Cup in Budapest was the opposite. He arrived in a bathing suit, a t-shirt, barefoot and with nothing else. You tell yourself that you’re losing your temper, but he doesn’t care.Behind, the 21-year-old Italian broke a new world record in the 100m backstroke final (51’60) ahead of Murphy. Efficient.
“The appeals room is a game of liar’s poker. There is the one who will arrive first, we know that he is in a hurry to fight. Whoever comes in last, we’ll tell each other that he doesn’t want to be under too much pressure.”Michel Chrétien, coach of Maxime Grousset
on franceinfo: sport
All the swimmers interviewed say it, in the call room, it is difficult to win your race there, but losing everything is a reality. Although in the end, for Camille Lacourt, “the fight is first with oneself“.
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