One of the most successful and popular Fernch swimmers of the past decade, Camille Lacourt has concluded his career is sport by clinching gold in 50m backstroke on the closing day of the 17th FINA World Championships. He claimed his fifth world title in Budapest, bookending his career. Almost a month after the World Championships he was still stunned by the tournament in Budapest when he gave the following interview to Bp2017.
Seven years after the European Championships held in Budapest where you claimed three gold and breached your personal best as well as the French national record, this year you returned to the Hungarian capital for the World Championsips. Did you feel nostalgic or you were more focused on new challenges and expectations?
The two tournaments were completely different. While the 2010 European Championships in Budapest meant a good springboard for my international swimming career, this time entering the tournament I aimed at testing myself for the last time without setting any specific goals for myself. By seizing the opportunity to enter the tournament hosted by the same city where my international career began, I could bookend this phase of my life.
Hungarians are great enthusiasts of aquatics. What were your impressions about Duna Arena, the venue of swimming events, and about the atmosphere of the tournament?
Honestly, I have never experienced such an incredible atmosphere by the pool. The conscious planning and extensive experience of Hungarians contributed greatly to establishing brilliant training and competition venues where I enjoyed swimming a lot. Those few days were special for me, but swimmers who focused exclusively on the competition were also amazed by the organisation and the incredible audience.
Is there a big difference between Camille Lacourt of 2010 and of 2017?
I guess only outsiders can tell, but I have definitely changed a lot, especially mentally. My career was not at all smooth, I had to cope with injuries and weak performance sometimes, therefore my focus shifted gradually from chasing success to enjoying swimming.
On the closing day of the event you jumped in the pool as an active swimmer for the last time. How did the last leg of the very last heat feel and what were the moments after touching the wall like?
The last 50 metres? In that situation I didn’t really have time to think about the end of my career, my only goal was to finish faster than my rivals. Obviously, after the heat I suddenly felt overwhelmed with my thoughts, but most of all I felt how special it was that my family and friends could accompany me to Budapest and I wanted to share the joy with them.