FINA Communication Department

Stephane Lecat, a former French long-distance swimmer, leading the French team in Doha’s inaugural FINA/HOSA Marathon Swim World Series 2018, took the time in between last minute training and fine tuning with his team to speak with FINA.

Responsible for a team of 23 swimmers, Lecat, prefers to stay humble when he speaks about the incredible results the French achieved last summer at the FINA World Championships in Budapest.

“We have lived last year fully but we are conscious that it was exceptional and it will be hard to keep up this year. It is our job to try and prepare the athletes the best possible way.”

“The real challenge is to repeat the success or to even exceed what we did last summer and the years before. Budapest was good but we keep Tokyo 2020 in our head as main and primary objective. We live and breathe Tokyo because we had good results in Rio but something happened and it is hard for us to accept. We really want to prove in Tokyo that we are capable to achieve beautiful things.”

French team's most successful swimmers Marc-Antoine Oliver and Aurelie Muller are not present in Doha but Lecat is full of hope for the French team.

“Marc-Antoine has had to stop his training so we have preferred to keep him off, and Aurelie focuses on university this year. She trains every day, very professionally but she decided to focus on her studies this year to better come back next year.”

“We still have 23 athletes here in Doha. We have some very good ones: David Aubry, who took part in the 10km in Budapest and was very close to the podium, World and European junior champion Logan Fontaine, Oceane Cassignol who ranked 5th last year in Abu Dhabi World Cup, Clement Batte, and 25km World champion Axel Reymond. So, we really have some swimmers that can excel here but the concurrence is very tough.”

Asked about the evolution of open water in France following these successful years, Lecat is happy to see a biggest interest for the sport.

“There is more interest for the sport in France. People are watching us more and more because of the good results in Budapest last summer. Beautiful emotions came out from these Championships, transmitted on TV in particular. It was very well filmed by the broadcasters and the Hungarians. We hope that the World Series will be broadcast just as well as the World Championships and that we will be able to share with the French once more.”

Commenting about Doha and the competition venue at the Corniche, Lecat was enthusiastic.

“It seems very good to me. The organisation is very professional for the moment and we are looking forward to Saturday.”

“The water and the air temperature can either help or disadvantage a swimmer, it depends where they train. It is all very strategic.”

“In France, we typically train in an indoor pool but we recently went to a camp in Turkey to train in the sea. We are used to deal with the different water temperatures and this is not a problem for us.”

Follow all the actions of the elite races on FINAtv.