He’s the best swimmer in the world and a poster boy whose smile melts hearts – but Chad le Clos isn’t doing so well when it comes to matters relating to the heart.
It’s not that the 22-year-old gold medallist and world record holder isn’t attractive – his fame and the constant public scrutiny that comes with it tend to scare some would-be partners away.
He had a girlfriend last year, but the relationship ended after a few months, the very private Le Clos said in a candid interview with City Press’ sister paper, Rapport.
“Whenever I go out with a girl for a meal, I’m recognised and I hear ‘that’s Chad’s girl’ before anyone even approaches for a picture.
“I can’t take arrogance and rude behaviour, and I really get a lot of it.”
Le Clos said that in any case, his most recent relationship was doomed because the young woman wanted to get too serious.
“At 22, I am still too young for that, and I’m too focused on my swimming career. Maybe I’ll feel differently about it when I meet the right person, but that hasn’t happened yet,” he says.
His training programme and his busy travel schedule also allow very little time for a love life.
“When I’m alone in my hotel room in some foreign place, I feel very lonely. Then I tuck into my favourite chocolate – Chuckles or Whispers – for some comfort,” he laughs.
“I now have to make the most of the opportunities that come my way.
“I realise every swimmer has a shelf life. No, I haven’t given any thought to when I will retire, but I also know I won’t be able to swim forever,” he says.
For now, while he’s raking in the gold medals – as he did at the Fina World Short Course Swimming Championships in Doha, Qatar, last weekend – he lives a rigidly organised, strict existence.
He gets up at 5:30am each day, drinks a cup of coffee and doesn’t eat breakfast.
Then it’s off to the pool, where he trains from 6.30am for two-and-a-half to three hours. At 11am, he eats steak and salad or pasta; or whatever his father, Burt, prepares for him.
His father makes all his meals. “He is the best cook in the world,” says Le Clos.
“His secret is he makes everything fresh. Whatever he makes he buys early in the morning.”
Chad doesn’t eat eggs, tomatoes or mushrooms. At 11:30am, he has a nap, and from 2:30pm to 5pm, it’s back in the pool to swim again.
He also goes to the gym three times a week for an hour. “But I don’t lift weights. I do fitness exercises to stay strong,” he says.