2014 is Le Clos’ year

2014-01-05 10:01

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SA swimming wunderkind aims to ‘get faster each year’ and break more of Phelps’ records.

While 2013 was an exceptional year for Chad le Clos in the swimming pool, 2014 could be an even bigger one for the 21-year-old swimmer from KwaZulu-Natal.

The highlight of Le Clos’ swimming year was becoming the double butterfly (100m and 200m) world champion at the Fina World Championships in Barcelona in 2013 and the short course world records of 1:49.04 and 1:48.56 in the 200m butterfly.

He continued his success in the Fina Swimming World Cup series, bagging 24 gold, eight silver and three bronze medals throughout the series, giving him total prize money earnings of $305?000 (R3.2?million).

The young swimmer recently said that his next goal is to break one of Michael Phelps’ world long course records and he is hoping to achieve this at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, or perhaps at the next World Championships that will be held in Kazan, Russia, in 2015.

“It is just about getting faster each year and the most important thing is that I keep on dominating the events that I dominate and extending on other events like the freestyle and the individual medley races,” he said after being crowned the best swimmer at the World Cup series in Beijing at the end of last year.

Graham Hill, the head coach of Swimming South Africa (SSA) said they will be concentrating on the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July, but it is going to be a very busy year for the swimming team.

The Pan Pacific Swimming Championships kicks the year off in Australia towards the end of this month.

“There is also the Youth Olympics for the younger swimmers and Commonwealth Games, the Fina World Cup series and the World Short Course Championships, where South Africa will be represented,” he said.

But the head coach is excited about the Commonwealth Games, where he believes the South African men’s team can make a big impact.

The swimmers produced the most medals for Team SA at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, winning eight gold, four silver and five bronze medals out of the total of 33 medals that Team SA won.

“With America, the strongest swimming team in the world not part of the Commonwealth we could bag a few gold medals once again,” he said.

Hill said that Cameron van der Burgh should be the favourite to win the 50m and 100m breaststroke, and Le Clos could be on the podium seven times as he will be entering the 100m and 200m freestyle; 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly; and the 200m and 400m individual medley events.

He will also be swimming in the three relay events.

At the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Le Clos won the 200m butterfly and the 400m individual medley, and collected silver in the 4x100m medley and two bronze medals in the 4x100m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle.

Van der Burgh won the 50m and 100m breaststroke, and won silver in the 4x100m medley.

“It is not just the top two swimmers in the team but we still have Myles Brown who won five gold medals, eight silver and five bronze medals at the recent World Cup series. Roland Schoeman will be up there in the sprint events and there are still a few swimmers in the US like Sebastian Rossouw, Dylan Bosch and Michael Meyer, who are strong contenders,” said Hill.

According to Hill, South Africa will be entering the men in all the relays (4x100m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle and 4x100m medley) where he believes they could get to the podium.

“Our women are not yet as strong as our men’s team, but Karin Prinsloo and Rene Warnes are the two to watch for individual medals as they are our strongest swimmers.

“But we will be entering a 4x100m freestyle relay team as Jessica Ashleigh-Cooper is swimming strong,” said Hill.

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