French swimmer Yannick Agnel training with Bob Bowman in Baltimore
By By Jordan Littman and The Baltimore Sun
Jun 14, 2013 at 2:45 PM
After parting ways with former coach Fabrice Pellerin last month, swimmer Yannick Agnel has a new home in Baltimore.
Agnel, who won three medals at the 2012 Olympics in London, recently moved from his native country of France to begin training at North Baltimore Aquatic Club with new coach Bob Bowman.
The 21-year-old swimmer, who came from behind to beat the United States' Ryan Lochte in the anchor leg of the 4x100-meter freestyle relay at the 2012 Olympics, arrived in Maryland this week and will train with Bowman in the city.
"[Pellerin and I] had reached a point of no return," Agnel said during a May 21 news conference in France. "I wanted to find in Bob Bowman what I was lacking in Nice: warmth, sharing, sincerity.
Before coming to this country, Agnel had worked with Pellerin since he was 14 years old.
The swimmer won the 200- and 400-meter freestyle events at the 2009 European Junior Swimming Championships, as well as a gold medal in the 400 free at the 2010 European Aquatics Championships, and he earned a spot in London for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Agnel won his first Olympic gold medal in the 200 free in a national-record time of 1:43.14, and he then overcame a 0.55-second deficit heading into the final leg to help France avenge the 2008 loss to the United States in the 4x100 freestyle relay.
He earned a third medal — a silver — in the 4x200 free relay, in which he swam the fastest split of anyone in the race.
After the Olympics last summer, Agnel continued his ascent in the sport.
He broke the world record in the short course 400-meter freestyle on Nov. 15 with a time of 3:32.25, and then he followed it the next day with the European record in the 800 free. Swimming World named Agnel the 2012 European Swimmer of the Year.
It was only recently he and Pellerin decided to split.
"We had a few hiccups, as sometimes happens," Agnel said at the news conference. "I thought, and after three days, I felt we were coming to the end of our relationship."
So, he decided to move Baltimore, where he will train with U.S. Olympic gold medalists Allison Schmitt and Conor Dwyer, as well as Chase Kalisz (Fallston) and other rising stars in the sport.
Agnel also said working with Bowman will help him get to Brazil for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
"I'm still really motivated by swimming. I want to have fun, go further," he said in the news conference. "Baltimore is a good solution. With Bob, we'll walk hand-in-hand at least to Rio."
Agnel already has started training at Mount Washington's Meadowbrook Aquatic and Fitness Center and will work there until the World Aquatic Championships in Barcelona in August, where he will swim in France's relay events.
For now, though, Agnel is in the process of adjusting to life in the United States, with new teammates, new coaches and new friends.
"That's a national hero right there," Kalisz said. "And now he's one of us."