‘Not luck’: Chad beat Phelps fair and square

2012-08-02 00:00

PURE luck? No, it was a “fantastic swim by someone who maintained his tempo and won perfectly”.

Swimming coaches and sports scientists agreed that Chad le Clos was anything other than “lucky”. And the great Michael Phelps didn’t make a “rookie

error”, he just didn’t swim as well as Le Clos.

Dr Ben Coetzee, a sports scientist at North West University and a former provincial swimmer, said Phelps’s tempo was out of sync and he had to glide too far to the wall.

Dr Ross Tucker said Phelps had to glide about a metre, which cost him the 0,05 seconds that was the victory margin.

“Le Clos was too strong for him and it’s possible the pressure Le Clos put on him upset his tempo,” Coetzee said.

Lucie Conradie, a Stellenbosch University lecturer and coach, said: “Le Clos kept his strokes long and strong. He had extra energy at the end; the 200 metres butterfly is exhausting. You could see he didn’t breathe in the last three strokes.

“Phelps’s strokes over the last 10 metres were too short and he couldn’t reach the wall in time. Le Clos deserved to win. It wasn’t luck — he was well coached.”

Coach Dean Price, Swimming SA’s high-performance manager, said: “Chad isn’t scared of a race … Over the last 18 months he has performed amazingly in training. It also wasn’t the first time he has beaten Phelps. It didn’t come out of nowhere. He was ready for the race.”

Dr Tim Noakes of the University of Cape Town said the best was yet to come from Le Clos. He said swimmers tended to peak at around 28, so at the next Olympics and even the one after that “we can expect him to shine”.

However, it would depend on the swimmer’s motivation.

“Look at Michael Phelps … No one can take away the fact that he’s the most successful Olympian, but it doesn’t last forever.”

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