Stéphane Lecat (FRA)
Honor Open Water Swimmer (2023)
FOR THE RECORD: 3-time FINA MARATHON SWIMMING WORLD SERIES CHAMPION; 38 podium finishes in professional career; 3-time TRAVERSÉE INTERNATIONALE DU LAC ST-JEAN (32km/19.9 miles); 2-time MARATÓN HERNANDARIAS-PARANÁ (88km/54.7 miles); 4-time MARATÓN ACUATÍCO RÍO CORONDA (57km/39 miles); 2-time MARATÓN ACUÁTICA INTERNACIONAL CIUDAD DE ROSARIO (60km/37 miles); ATLANTIC CITY AROUND THE ISLAND SWIM (36.6km/22.7 miles); 3-time TRAVERSÉE INTERNATIONALE DU LAC MEMPHRÉMAGOG (32 km/20 miles); 2001 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: bronze (25km); 2000 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (25km); 1997 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: silver (25km); 1995 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: bronze (25km); 10-time French National Champion (5km, 10km and 25km).
Frenchman Stéphane Lecat enters the International Swimming Hall of Fame as only the 26th Open Water Swimmer in ISHOF’s 58-year history, with 19 FINA World Cup professional race victories to his credit. His three World Championships came in the 1997, 1999 and 2000 FINA Marathon Swimming World Series. Lecat then raced at the highest level for 14 years starting in 1994 at the FINA World Championships in Rome. At the 2001 World Championships in Fukuoka, he won the bronze medal in the 25k, missing gold by barely a second.
Stéphane was one of the few racers of his generation to beat ISHOF Hall of Famer, Petar Stoychev in the big races. He set the speed record in the 32k Traversée Internationale du lac St-Jean at 6 hours 22 minutes and 45 seconds. This remains the record more than 20 years later – in one of the most storied marathon races in the sport.
The sport of marathon swimming includes both professional elite racing alongside the amateur races and solo/epic swims. Stéphane, as an elite racer, was constantly asked if “he had swum the Channel? ” It felt almost like something missing, at least to the public at large, so he swam the English Channel in eight hours and 19 minutes in 2003. It was the ninth fastest crossing of the Channel for a male swimmer in the direction of England to France.
He won in the cold fresh water in Canada, the warm fresh water in Argentina, and the salt water outside Atlantic City. His marathon victories came at all distances from 10k to 88k in times ranging from 2 hours and 10 minutes to 10 hours and 39 minutes.
Stéphane returned in 2022 to the Maratón Acuatíco Río Coronda, an annual 57k professional marathon swim, now part of the FINA Grand Prix Series down the Coronda River in Santa Fe, Argentina. Lecat is a four-time winner in front of crowds exceeding 100,000. In 2022, on his return trip, he coached a physically disabled swimmer to the finish in eight hours and 52 minutes – a first ever.
Lecat has coached and managed in France since 2002. His pool swimmers have achieved Olympic medals in Athens 2004 and Rio 2016. He was the French National Team Open Water Program Director and he led the French Open Water Team to many World Championship and Olympic medals: 2015 through 2022. The French Open Water Team placed consistently in the top five globally over several years – winning in 2019.
Stéphane Lecat was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 2007 and received The Irving Davids/Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award from the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2018 for his contribution to the administration of open water swimming.