April 26, 2009
MONTPELLIER, FRANCE - Former Auburn sprinter Fred Bousquet became the first man in history to swim the 50-meter freestyle in under 21 seconds, hitting the new world record time of 20.94 Sunday at the 2009 French Nationals. As a Tiger, Bousquet was the first man to swim the 50-yard freestyle in under 19 seconds.
“Fred Bousquet is a just a freak,” said Auburn co-head men’s coach Brett Hawke who arrived in France on Thursday. “The place went absolutely crazy when he touched in. He’s worked very hard to be where he is right now and we’re all incredibly happy for him.”
Just two days after winning the 100 free in an upset of world-record holder Alain Bernard, Bousquet made history as he shattered the previous 50 free record held by Australian Eamon Sullivan. The Aussie Olympian set the old mark at 21.28 in March 2008 during Olympic Trials.
Bousquet's performance earned him a lane during 50 free competition at the 2009 World Championships in Rome. Amaury Leveaux, who was also selected to represent the French at the championships, placed third behind Bousquet and Bernard. Bernard's time of 21.23 also fell under the previous world record.
Bousquet returned to Auburn prior to the 2008 Beijing Games to train under Auburn co-head men's coach Brett Hawke. Hawke also coached Brazilian and former Tiger Cesar Cielo to Olympic Gold in the 50 free during the 2008 Beijing Games.
Currently training on The Plains alongside Bousquet are former Tigers Alexei Puninski, George Bovell, Bryan Lundquist and Cielo.
“For Auburn to have both the reigning Olympic Gold Medalist and now the world-record holder in the 50 free is an amazing thing,” said Hawke. “It’s a great thing for the university and says a lot for the swimming and diving program so many people have worked so hard for. It's a huge statement.”
Bousquet accumulated six NCAA and 15 SEC titles while swimming collegiately for the Tigers.