Chad feels Phelps’s records are in his reach

2013-11-18 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Chad le Clos believes Michael Phelps’s world records are within his reach to break.

When that will happen he does not know — and he is not unduly worried about it. The young Durban swimmer has enough milestones to focus on at the moment.

Le Clos returned on Saturday from Beijing where he earned a hefty R3,1 million after emerging as the dominant men’s swimmer of Fina’s short course World Cup series.

Apart from the 24 gold medals he accumulated, he also twice broke the short course world record for the 200 m butterfly event. His time (1:48,96) indicates that he would soon get to Phelps’s very fast 1:51,96 in the longer pool. The difference between the two pools is according to experts about three seconds, but Le Clos has not set himself a deadline of when he wants to break the record.

“I have obviously targeted the record, but it’s not something about which I get all worked up,” he said on Saturday. “I know I will break it sometime during the next six to seven years, but for now I have other priorities.”

Next year’s target is Commonwealth domination and hopefully another place of honour in South Africa’s swimming history.

The Commonwealth Games take place in Glasgow next July and Le Clos plans to compete in the 50 m, 100 m and 200 m butterfly, the 200 and 400 individual medley and three relays — totalling eight events.

“No one has ever won more than six gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, so it is something I keep in the back of my mind. At this stage, I am aiming at five individual gold medals and hopefully also gold in the 4x400 medley relay. If I can win more than that it would be a nice bonus.

“I won two gold medals at the previous games [held in Delhi in 2010] and if I could win another four next year I will become South Africa’s most successful Commonwealth swimmer. This is what I am now working towards,” he said.

There are rumours that Phelps wants to make a comeback next year after it became known that he is back in the pool of athletes who have been pre-tested by an American agency (Usada) for banned substances. But this does not bother Le Clos.

“I don’t really care if he comes back or not. He … remains just one of the swimmers I would have to beat … I will still have to focus on myself, my own improvements and successes.”

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