The Training of French Sprint Star Florent Manaudou

Michael Butler
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Florent’s Training Background

In the last number of years, French swimmer Florent Manaudou has experienced a meteoric rise to swimming’s top echelon. In 2004, when he was just 15 years old, he broke the World Junior Record for the 50 freestyle (22.80).

The next year, he won a bronze medal at the 2005 World Championships in the 50 freestyle (22.96), which is still a French national record. Florent’s outstanding performance in the 50 freestyle speaks volumes for the power and efficiency of his stroke. It’s not by accident that he’s one of the fastest 50 freestylers in the World.

In 2006, he won two Olympic bronze medals in the 4 x 100 freestyle relay and the 100 freestyle. He also set a European freestyle record in the 100 freestyle (48.17) at the French Nationals.

Although there is no denying that he is a gifted swimmer and born with great talent, it doesn’t take away from the fact that Florent puts in a great amount of hard work to excel in the water.

Since his breakout performance in 2005, Florent has taken a great interest in sport physiology, after realizing that his training alone was not sufficient to take him where he wanted in the sport of swimming.

Florent’s Start

Florent Manaudou grew up in Saint Tropez in Southern France. Known for its beaches and yachts, he wanted to try a sport he could do there. Water sports appealed to him so he joined the water polo team and was soon swimming competitively. At the age of twelve, he was selected for the French junior national team.

The story goes that Florent began triathlon when his mother presented him with a triathlon magazine at the age of thirteen. This inspired him to sign up for a race and he impressed the officials at the event with his natural swimming skills. After this, he decided he wanted to become a triathlete.

He soon began to transition into swimming on a more serious level. He joined the Aix En Provence club where he started a dedicated training program. At the age of fourteen, he was competing at two-day events.

The French government is quite active in encouraging the sports participation of its youth, and young athletic stars are considered viable representatives of their nations both on and off the playing court. Like many fourteen-year-old French boys, Florent was encouraged by his officials to try out for the French Olympic Team.

Though he had already competed in every European Championship since the age of fourteen, he agreed to give it a try. He qualified for the Olympic trials, and went on to win the 200m breaststroke.

“Train to Race”

Manaudou was the fastest man in the water in London, winning both the 100 and 200 meter backstroke events in world record times and breaking the 400m world record, but the French swim team was not satisfied with just his Olympic success.

They wanted to better Manaudou’s times and push him further. Manaudou, however, has been sidelined for over a month recovering from foot injury he sustained during the long course world championships in Beijing.

The French swimmers did finally succeed in pushing Manaudou, who is now swimming with a foot brace to protect the injury. The problem is, he’s still swum faster than any of the French swimmers capable of helping him compete at the world championships this summer.

After much deliberation, Manaudou decided to not swim in the World Championships to avoid aggravating his injury.

And therein lies the quandary of training for international competition – an athlete can’t expect to continually improve by training with the same group of athletes. So, if the goal is to get faster and faster, he’s got to look beyond his current training squad.

Florent’s Dryland

What does a top-level swimmer like Florent Manaudou do to keep consistent with his training schedule? Like many other top pros, he sticks to his training plans and doesn’t slack off.

He started swimming at the age of 3, and has been committed, focused and determined to become the best young sprint swimmer in the world. Now 20 years old, he is the current World Champion in the 50m and 100m freestyle events and the bronze medal winner in the 50m backstroke at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Florent was also in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. But the 2008 Games will only be the starting point for him. He has set his sights on the 2012 Olympic Games in London, and he will be training heavily to achieve his goals.

The Manaudou brothers, Florent and his twin brother, Immanuel, have decided to train together in their home town of Nice, France, together with their coach Fabrice Pellerin, who doubles as a high school mathematics and physics teacher.

Although they spend 3-4 days a week at the Nice NASA training center, their home and part of the training is with their parents. Their parents have become separated, and so the boys spend time with each of their parents, which provides them with a unique perspective.

The Program to London

In 2009, the French team suffered a disappointing performance in the World Championships, finishing without a medal in all relay events. The head coach of the team, Philippe Lucas, knew it was time for a change.

The team had started its preparation for the upcoming Olympics (London 2012) by focusing on distance-centered training and neglected the fact that most of the meets would be finished by the 800 meter mark.

Manaudou had less than a year to prepare for the Olympics, so the team set up a very specific program of high-intensity training, as well as focused on technique, power, and explosive sprinting.

During the first months of training, the team used the altitude chamber in Besancon for altitude jumps, had some early morning swimming sessions and put a lot of emphasis on plyometrics, box jumps, and squats. In contrast to that, the rest was dedicated to technique, strength, and precise repetition of drills.

Florent’s Technique

Florent Manaudou (Madame Butterfly) is a French swimmer that is known as one of the fastest and strongest sprinters in the world. He has earned multiple medals and earned 2 gold medals at the 2010 World Aquatics Championships, making him the fastest freestyle swimmer in the world.

Working with a swim coach pays great dividends over time, and it’s something you should consider if you’re serious about improving your technique and performance. If you are training on your own, however, that doesn’t mean you can’t get some of the benefits that having a coach would offer. You just need to be really observant about what you are doing and study your own technique.

One way to improve your technique is to study the people that are performing it properly. Of course this is easier to do if there is live video, but you can still get plenty of good information by watching video.

Study people that swim the same stroke as you do. If you’re a middle-distance freestyle swimmer, watch the top swimmers in your stroke, and more likely than not, you’ll find general similarities in terms of their arm strokes, body posture, kick, and breathing patterns.

Gold in London


Manaudou is one of the best butterfly swimmers in the world. With this stroke, he holds many French national records. He is the world record holder in the 200 and 400 butterflies.

Based on his video posted on YouTube, one can see that he is very strict and methodical in his training. Every day, his training consists of 60% distance (50% pool, 10% open water) and 40% weights and sprints. It’s important to note that Manaudou swims 1,000 meters almost every day. He can swim 1,000 meters almost as fast as he can swim 100 meters.

With the current training, he can get to 100 meters around 28 seconds.

For a length of 50 meters, he can do six times every 25 seconds. Six times 50 meters is 300 meters.

It’s a good idea to see how he trains so that you know what’s possible.

Manaudou is training for the pool. It’s important to note that butterfly strokes are primarily lateral movements, so distance is more important than speed.

When training for the butterfly, swimming with a lot of breaststroke and freestyle is good form training. That’s what you should do to increase your speed.