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Léon Marchand is the fastest swimmer in the world right now. After breaking Michael Phelps’ long-standing 400-meter IM world record, Léon is on his way to becoming a household name in swimming, and winning a few medals at Paris 2024. 

An individual medley specialist, Léon is a master of all four competitive strokes. Let’s take a look at how Léon swims each stroke so you too can improve your technique and swim stronger!


Léon also competes in the 200 butterfly, so you know he’s got incredible technique and endurance in butterfly. 

With each stroke, Léon’s got a strong undulation in his body. As his chest presses forward and down when his hands enter the water, his hips lift up. When he kicks his legs to complete a stroke cycle, his hips drop slightly and his chest lifts.

His hands enter the water slightly wider than his shoulders, which sets him up for a powerful catch.

Related: Analyzing Michael Phelps’ Butterfly Technique

Léon keeps his chin close to the surface with every breath, which helps keep his body position in line, and his hips high in the water. 

As his arms recover over the water, he sweeps them close to the surface with his thumbs facing down. He doesn’t need to lift his arms too high to get where he needs to go. The lower he stays, the less his body position will be affected.  


Backstroke is Léon’s worst stroke, but that doesn’t mean that he’s bad at it. We can still take a few key lessons from his technique.

As he swims, Léon’s body rides high in the water, with his hips close to the surface. He kicks with just a slight bend in his knees, and pointed toes.

He maintains a solid head position, with the eyes looking straight up. This helps him swim in a straight line. 

Léon’s hands are entering the water slightly narrow, which isn’t ideal for his catch. When his catch starts closer to the midline of his body, he has to waste precious time sweeping his hands out to shoulder width before he can begin his pull. 

That being said, he’s still pulling with a great Early Vertical Forearm catch. He initiates the pull with a high elbow to maximize the amount of water he can pull. 


While Michael Phelps was better at backstroke, Léon Marchand is better at breaststroke. 

In breaststroke, every stroke starts and ends in streamline. And Léon is a perfect example of a swimmer who is doing this right. Between strokes, you can clearly see that he glides for a split second in streamline, with his eyes looking down at the bottom of the pool. 

He keeps his fingers relaxed and slightly separated as he pulls, which is great. Studies have found that squeezing your fingers tightly together is less powerful than swimming with a small gap between the fingers (think no more than half a centimeter).

With each kick, Léon keeps his knees no wider than his shoulders. A narrower kick reduces drag so he can swim faster. 

Related: How to Swim Breaststroke with Perfect Technique

Léon also gives us a master class in how to do a perfect breaststroke pull out. He keeps his body in a tight, streamlined position throughout the pull out, which allows him to glide further before he takes his first stroke. 

If we were to get nitpicky, he could probably keep his hands closer to his body after the big pull down. And as he floats up to the surface, he lifts his head a little too early. If he fixed those two things, he’d shave off some extra resistance. 

Léon’s stroke timing is impeccable, too. He’s nailed the pull, breathe, kick and glide. After years of practice, we’d hope so! 


Léon’s freestyle needs to be on point to ensure he can maintain his closing speed in the 400 IM.

He swims with a nice, high body position, and his head position looks great. With each stroke, he rotates side to side to take advantage of rotational momentum and to maximize his distance per stroke. 

On the right side, his pull and catch are almost perfect. He initiates his pull with a high elbow and keeps that elbow high as he pulls back. This turns his hand and forearm into one giant paddle, allowing him to pull more water. 

His left hand tends to break at the wrist and takes on a claw-like position as he pulls. Now, this may only happen when he gets tired, and we’ll never know for sure. But in absolutely perfect freestyle technique, the wrist and hand stay in line with the rest of the forearm throughout the catch and pull.

Léon’s freestyle kick is fast and narrow, which is what we like to see. If his kick was big and wide, he’d create more drag, take fewer kicks and slow himself down overall.


They say that the dolphin kick is the fifth stroke in swimming. It’s just as important to master your streamline and underwater dolphin kick as it is to perfect your stroke technique. And Léon definitely understands that. 

His underwaters are GREAT – he maximizes the distance off the start and off of every wall, often taking the full 15 meter allowance. Even at the end of a race, when he’s tired, Léon takes full advantage of his underwaters. And that gives him an edge over his competition.

The secret to better underwaters is breath control. To give yourself an extra edge in the pool, try using the Airofit Breathing Trainer to boost your accessible lung capacity, breath control and anaerobic threshold. 

Challenge your lungs with swimming-specific breath training programs in the Airofit app. Adjust the resistance on the Airofit Pro 2.0 Breathing Trainer and feel your diaphragm and intercostal muscles work!

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Léon Marchand is the fastest swimmer in the world because he has dedicated years to perfecting his technique and maximizing his efficiency in the water. Whether you compete in the individual medley or not, you can learn something from watching him race. 

If you’re ready to take your swimming to the next level, download the MySwimPro app and start your own personalized Training Plan! Check out the Get Fit IM or IMX Pro Challenge Training Plans to start improving your IM technique and endurance.



  1. In Freestyle Léon’s “left hand tends to break at the wrist”. Could it be in order to rotate back after breathing?

  2. Will Leon Marchand become the first person to break the 4-minute mark in the 400 Meter IM or will it fall to Maximus Williamson, the 16-year-old kid from Keller Texas who recently broke Michael Phelps 20 year old, 400 Yard IM National Age Group Record?

  3. Great break down of Marchand’s stroke. One thing I didn’t hear was how strong his kick is. A good strong kick makes everything upper body more effortless. And Leon’s is outstanding.

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