Getting to know Marc-Antoine Olivier
Following his 10km bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Marc-Antoine Olivier confirmed that he is one of the best open water swimmers by winning the 5km world title this summer in Budapest. How did he get there? Let’s find out!
When did you start open water swimming and why?
When I was 15 years old, I went to Rouen. Since I was a good long-distance swimmer, my coach, Eric Boissiere, signed me up for a leg in the French championships. A few months later, I was a double French and European open water swimming champion.
What do you like about open water swimming?
Open water swimming is very different from swimming in a pool, and that’s what I like about it. Open water swimming is like a game of chess. The difficulties come from the variety of venues (river, lake, sea…), the weather, water temperature, and the presence of waves and currents.
What are the qualities of an open water swimmer?
I guess, first of all, you must be a good long-distance swimmer, but you should also be able to sprint.
You must adapt your strategy according to the race conditions.
Your first international medal was at the European Junior Championships, what are the main differences between senior and junior races?
For the past 2 years, the main senior races ended in a final sprint (European Championships, Olympic Games, World Championships…). You need to be well positioned from the 5th kilometre onwards. Also, you take more knocks in senior races (even if we have a lot of respect for each other).
What has changed for you since you won the gold medal at the Olympic Games and the world title in Budapest?
The media (TV, radio, magazines…) are more interested in me and my sport. 15 days ago, an English TV channel came to do a report on me. It was a great honour, because they also did reports on Michael PHELPS, Ryan LOCHTE, Adam PEATY, Laszlo CSEH and Ashley ANDERSON. I was the first French swimmer to be spotlighted. I will also be featured on France Natation and the FINA website.
Do you prefer to swim in lakes or the sea?
I prefer the sea because the races conditions are harder than in a lake. A lake is like a giant swimming pool with flat water.
How many hours/kilometres do you swim each day?
I swim about 5 hours-a-day and between 16-20 kilometres. I warm-up by swimming 2 x 30 minutes. I also do 3 weight training sessions per week and 1 running session.
What do you do beside swimming?
Beside swimming, I have a « normal » life, I go shopping for food, prepare my meals for the week, clean my apartment, do the laundry and spend time on my social media. I’m also involved in some charitable work that I love. In my free time, I enjoy playing online games with my friends.
What are your goals for 2018?
At the end of 2017 I will take part in the Military World Championships. Next year, I’d like to defend my European titles in the pool and open water.
What advices would you give to a swimmer who wants to swim in open water?