Alain Bernard

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Alain Bernard
Alain Bernard.jpg
Personal information
Nationality France
Born (1983-05-01) 1 May 1983 (age 37)
Aubagne, France
Height1.96 m (6 ft 5 in)
Weight90 kg (198 lb)
ClubCN Antibes

Alain Bernard (French pronunciation: ​[alɛ̃ bɛʁnaʁ]; born 1 May 1983) is a former French swimmer from Aubagne, Bouches-du-Rhône.

Bernard won a total of four medals (two golds, one silver, and one bronze) at two Olympic Games (2008 and 2012). He also won numerous medals at the World Championships (short course and long course) and European Championships (short course and long course). Bernard formerly held the world record for the 50 metres freestyle (long course) and the 100 metres freestyle (long course and short course).

Bernard has a shark tattoo on his right hip.

2008 European (Long Course) Championships[edit]

Bernard won the European (Long Course) Championships 2008 100 m freestyle final in a new world record time of 47.50 seconds on 22 March 2008. He had already beaten the world record the previous day, finishing in 47.60 seconds in the semi-finals. On 23 March 2008 Bernard broke Eamon Sullivan's 50 m freestyle world record in the semi-finals of the same championships, setting a new world record of 21.50 seconds. Bernard would go on to win the 50m freestyle final in 21.66 seconds. But Bernard's 21.50-second world record only stood for four days; it was reclaimed by Eamon Sullivan.[1]

2008 Olympics[edit]

At the French national championships, Bernard qualified for the Olympic Games in Beijing in the 50 m freestyle (with a time of 21.69 s) and 100 m freestyle (47.82 s).

Before the 4×100 m freestyle relay, Bernard taunted the American swim team. Bernard claimed to a newspaper that he and his French teammates, favorite to win the relay, "were going to smash the American team. That's what we came here for".[2] But the French team ended up in second place behind the American team by .08 seconds. Bernard, who had a lead going into the final leg of slightly less than a body length, was caught in the final strokes by Jason Lezak, whose final leg of 46.06 seconds was the fastest relay leg in history.

The close defeat left Bernard "wounded," according to his coach.[3] However, he rebounded to win the men's 100 metres freestyle gold medal. Bernard had one day earlier set a new 100 metres freestyle long course world record of 47.20 s in the semi-finals. Bernard became only the second Frenchman to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming, after Jean Boiteux, who won the 400 m freestyle at the 1952 Helsinki Games. He also finished third in the men's 50 metres freestyle final behind César Cielo Filho of Brazil and Amaury Leveaux of France, making it the first time in Olympic history that France had produced two medallists in a swimming final.

2012 Olympics[edit]

Bernard failed to qualify for the 50 m freestyle and 100 m freestyle events of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London by finishing only fifth in both events during the French swimming championships in March 2012.[4][5] He was in the French 4 × 100 m freestyle relay team in the heats at the Olympics, but was not included in the team for the final. France won the event which made Bernard a two-time Olympic gold medalist.[6]

He announced his retirement from swimming shortly after the 2012 Olympic Games.[7]

Argentina helicopter accident[edit]

On 9 March 2015, as a part of a group of French sports stars participating in reality-television show Dropped, Bernard was on the ground as ten people died when two helicopters collided in mid-air during the filming in northwestern Argentina.[8][9]


Bernard was chosen as the 2008 L'Équipe Champion of Champions(France category) by L'Équipe.

He was also chosen as the 2008 RTL Champion of Champions by RTL,a French commercial radio network. This annual sports award was inaugurated in 2008.[10]

On 1 January 2013, Bernard was made an Officer (Officier) of the French National Order of Merit.[11]

Personal bests[edit]

Personal bests
Event Long course Short course
50 m freestyle 21.23 20.64
100 m freestyle 46.94 45.69
200 m freestyle 1:47.81 1:46.43

The 100m long course time (46.94) was not admissible as a world record because it was swum in a non-approved swimsuit.[12]

Service in the French Gendarmerie[edit]

Alain Bernard has been a volunteer in the Gendarmerie since 2008 and was until recently attached to the Groupement blindé de gendarmerie mobile based in Versailles-Satory in the Yvelines department.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sullivan smashes 50 m world record". ABC. 27 March 2008. Archived from the original on 28 March 2008. Retrieved 27 March 2008.
  2. ^ "I'm favorite and we'll smash U.S.: Bernard". Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  3. ^ "Lezak outstretches French as U.S. wins relay gold; Michael Phelps' quest for eight golds still alive". Retrieved 21 May 2013.
  4. ^ "Bernard fails to qualify for London". Retrieved 21 May 2013.
  5. ^ "Manaudou and her brother qualify for Olympics". Retrieved 21 May 2013.
  6. ^ "French get revenge for 2008 relay loss to US". The Reporter. Archived from the original on 19 December 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Camille Muffat, Olympic gold medallist, among 10 dead in helicopter crash
  9. ^ French Olympians filming reality TV survival show killed in helicopter crash in Argentina. Telegraph, 10 March 2015.
  10. ^ "Marion Bartoli élue championne des championnes 2013 par RTL". RTL. 13 December 2013.
  11. ^ Légion d'Honneur: Aschieri, Muffat et Agnel dans la promo du 1er janvier Archived 27 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine –
  12. ^ PR49 – FINA APPROVAL OF WORLD RECORDS. Retrieved on 9 August 2012.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Eamon Sullivan
Men's 50 metre freestyle
world record holder (long course)

23 March 2008 – 27 March 2008
Succeeded by
Eamon Sullivan
Preceded by

Pieter van den Hoogenband
Eamon Sullivan
Eamon Sullivan
Men's 100 metre freestyle
world record holder (long course)

21 March 2008 – 11 August 2008
13 August 2008
23 April 2009 – 22 June 2009 (record annulled)
Succeeded by

Eamon Sullivan
Eamon Sullivan
Eamon Sullivan
Preceded by
Stefan Nystrand
Men's 100 metres freestyle
world record holder (short course)

7 December 2008 – 12 December 2008
Succeeded by
Amaury Leveaux
Preceded by
Mateusz Sawrymowicz
European Swimmer of the Year
Succeeded by
Paul Biedermann
Preceded by
Sébastien Loeb
Daniel Elena
French Sportsperson of the Year
Succeeded by
Sébastien Loeb
Daniel Elena