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Yannick Agnel can swim 200m freestyle in Rio

Yannick Agnel

MONTPELLIER, FRANCE - MARCH 30: Yannick Agnel of France reacts after 200m Men’s freestyle on day two of the French National Swimming Championships on March 30, 2016 in Montpellier, France. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

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Olympic 200m freestyle champion Yannick Agnel can defend his title at the Rio Games after another French swimmer opted out of contesting the event at the Olympics, according to French reports.

Agnel controversially finished third at the French Olympic trials last Wednesday, despite putting his hand on the wall second, in an apparent touch-pad malfunction.

The man given second place, Jordan Pothain, decided to swim the 400m free and not the 200m free in Rio, according to L’Equipe and Reuters.

That opened up a spot for Agnel, even though none of the French swimmers met the federation’s time standard to automatically qualify for the Olympic 200m free.

“It’s up to [Agnel] to decide his programme,” French federation technical director Jacques Favre said Wednesday, according to Reuters. “He’s got a reserved spot on the 200m freestyle.”

Agnel also finished seventh in the 100m free at the French trials, hurting his chances to make the 4x100m free relay that he anchored to gold at London 2012. Agnel had the fastest split in that Olympic relay, passing Ryan Lochte on the final leg.

Agnel has struggled since breaking out at the 2012 Olympics and winning the 2013 World title in the 200m free.

He briefly was coached by Bob Bowman in 2014 and then withdrew before the 2015 World Championships for health reasons.

He was ranked eighth in the world in the 200m free last year.

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