Male African Swimmer of the Year: Chad le Clos
In 2018, Chad le Clos cemented his legacy as one of the most dominant butterfly swimmers of all time, and particularly as one of the greatest short course meters swimmers.
At the recent FINA World Championships in Hangzhou, China, le Clos won his fourth consecutive gold medal in the 100 fly in a time of 48.50, edging American sprint superstar Caeleb Dressel in the process. Le Clos also picked up silvers in the 50 fly in 21.97 behind world record holder Nicholas Santos, and the 200 fly, where he was the defending champion. Though le Clos was beaten by Japan’s Daiya Seto in the 200 fly, losing his world record to Seto in the process, he nonetheless produced a new PR in the event for the first time in five years, touching in 1:48.32, also a new African Record. Le Clos also posted a 45.89 to take bronze in the 100 freestyle in Hangzhou.
Le Clos was recognized by FINA as the 2018 World Swimmer of the Year following the action in Hangzhou, though his most impressive feats this year came in May at the 2018 Commonwealth Games held in Gold Coast, Australia.
Down under, le Clos swept all three butterfly races and tied for silver in the 100 freestyle, where he fell just short of Scotland’s Duncan Scott, tying 2016 Olympic Champion Kyle Chalmers in 48.15. In the 200 fly, le Clos posted an impressive 1:54.00 to lower his own Games record from 2014 by over a second. In the 100 fly, le Clos threw down a blazing 50.65. Only one man would go faster than le Clos in 2018: Caeleb Dressel, at the 2018 US National Championships, with a 50.50.
To top off a great individual season, le Clos and his teammates saw a long-anticipated return on investment in their relays. First, at the Commonwealth Games, South Africa won a bronze medal in the 4 x 100m medley relay where le Clos contributed a blistering 50.10 butterfly split. Only two men have ever posted faster butterfly splits in the 4 x 100 LCM medley relay: Michael Phelps (49.72, 2009) and Caeleb Dressel (49.76 and 49.92).
In December, at the short course World Championships in China, le Clos blasted a 20.31 as a member of South Africa’s 4 x 50m freestyle relay to set a new national and continental record in the relay. Though South Africa only placed fifth in the race overall, their accomplishment is still a special one.
In no specific order
- Mohamed Samy (Egypt): At the 2018 African Swimming and Open Water Championships, held in Algiers, Samy won an absolutely insane 11 gold medals and 1 bronze medal. Samy won individual gold in the 200m IM (2:01.21), 50m backstroke (25.49), 100m backstroke (55.49), 100m butterfly (53.72), 100m freestyle (49.39), 200m freestyle (1:49.62), and relay golds in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay (split 49.88), 4 x 200m freestyle relay (split 1:53.85), the 4 x 100m medley relay (backstroke split unavailable), as well as the mixed 4 x 100m freestyle relay (split 49.15) and the mixed 4 x 100m medley relay (split 49.47 – freestyle). Samy’s only bronze medal came in the 200m backstroke (2:06.88). Full results from the meet can be found here in a downloadable PDF.
- Cameron van der Burgh (South Africa): van der Burgh announced his retirement at the end of the 2018 Short Course World Championships, and he left on top of the mountain. The 2012 Olympic champion in the 100 breaststroke won both the 50 and 100, in new Meet Records, at the 2018 Short Course World Championships, and was named SwimSwam’s Male Swimmer of the Meet for his efforts.
- Marwan Elkamash (Egypt): Elkamash also had an impressive showing at the 2018 CANA Championships, winning 7 gold medals and one silver. Elkamash took home individual gold medals in the 400m freestyle (3:51.12), the 800m freestyle (8:02.37), the 1500m freestyle (15:26.40), and the 200m butterfly (2:00.96), and also picked up a silver in the 200 freestyle (1:49.88), just behind Egyptian teammate Mohamed Samy (1:49.62). Elkamash added to his medal haul as a member of both gold-medal-winning 4 x 100m freestyle relay (50.91) and the 4 x 200m freestyle relay (split 1:49.81), as well as the 4 x 100m medley relay (breaststroke split unavailable).
- Oussama Sahnoune (Algeria): At the 2018 Mediterranean Games in Tarragona, Spain, 26-year-old Ousama Sahnoune shone light on Algerian swimming with his victory in the 100m freestyle, where he blasted a 48.00 to win by over half-a-second. Sahnoune also captured the silver medal in the 50m freestyle in a very quick 21.96, falling 3/10ths short of the victor, Greek Kristian Gkolomeev, who touched in 21.66.