Marchand scorches to medley world title in pursuit of Phelps

While American Katie Ledecky and Australian Elijah Winnington gained redemption for Tokyo Olympic disappointment, young Frenchman Leon Marchand made clear he had Paris on his mind after a scorching medley on the first evening of the World Swimming Championships Saturday in Budapest.

In the 400m freestyle relays, the Olympic champions continued their domination as the US men and Australian women both won with a second to spare.

Marchand outdid his father Xavier, a world medley silver medallist in 1998, as he won with the second-fastest men’s 400m medley time in history.

The 20-year-old finished in 4min 4.28sec, just over a third of a second outside the record set by Michael Phelps in Beijing in 2008.

American Foster Carson, 20, was second at 2.28sec with US Olympic champion Chase Kalisz was third.

Marchand moved from his native Toulouse to the United States after last summer’s Olympics to swim for the Arizona State University team coached by Bob Bowman, who mentored Phelps.The switch worked.

“I improved a lot in backstroke and breaststroke,” Marchand said.

“I’m very excited for Mike because I’m very close to his record.”

He said he had not yet met Phelps but “I talked to him by message.”

Marchand trailed Carson through 200m before unleashing a sizzling breaststroke which he had kept under wraps in the morning heats.

He started the final freestyle leg a second inside the world record before fading.

He was also almost 19 seconds faster than his father’s time in the worlds in 1998.

“My dad supports me every day,” he said. “I’m very happy to bring him this medal.”

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