African Recap Day 3: Le Clos’ Risky Strategy Pays Off


Chad Le Clos, one of if not THE highest profile African swimmer at these Games, swam the third-fastest time in the men’s 200 fly this morning during prelims. Tonight, he had to pull out a tough double with the 200 free final and the 200 fly semifinals, and it turned out pretty well for him.

Le Clos, who is certainly better-known for his prowess in the butterfly events as the defending 2012 Olympic Champion in the 200 fly, has had a noticeable 200 free race strategy at these games.

In prelims, Le Clos was howling out of the gates, charging to a huge lead after the first 50 and 100. Though the field caught up to him, he sailed through to the semifinals.

Le Clos swam the same way in semifinals, and though he died hard again at the end, he found himself a spot in the final in lane 1. Outside smoke, anyone? In tonight’s final, as has become normal for Le Clos, he was out like a rocket.

The 200 free was supposed to be about defending World Champ James Guy and distance free stalwart Sun Yang, and then after that, Japanese star Kosuke Hagino. And then the Americans. But, there was Le Clos, still well in contention with 10 meters left in lane 1. And, at the wall, the rest of the field couldn’t catch him. Only Sun of China edged ahead of him, and after a frenzy of a finish, Le Clos had earned silver.

In addition to his silver, Le Clos’s time of 1:45.20 set a new African continental record, sneaking ahead of the 1:45.67 done in 2009 by his countrymate Jean Basson.

Later, Le Clos completed a successful double with a decent swim in the 200 fly that will give him lane 6 next to… Michael Phelps in the final. These Olympics have been dramatic, what with the Lilly King – Yulia Efimova rivalry, and the Phelps-Le Clos rivalry will be a must-watch race tomorrow night.

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7 years ago

Lol at people being disparaging about le Clos. Just look at his times last year at the same period.
In Kazan, he ended up 6th in the 200m free, in 1’46″5 with a last 50 slower than what he did yesterday despite his thundering pace.
He still managed to finish 2nd in the 200m fly in 1’53″68 with a very fast last 50 (29″3).
Make no mistake, he will be under 1″53 and he will have Phelps right next to him to break his heart again.

Reply to  AttentiveObserver
7 years ago

At last we have an objective commentator. Bravo! Anyway we only have a few hours to wait for the results……..and please, let’s not have any excuses like cupping teqniques, shoulder injuries or age catching up with him. He is 31 and we knew that he would be 31two years ago. 29+2= 31 for all of you little Phelpamanics out there that have trouble with arithmetic. BTW, Hulk Hogan rocks!

7 years ago

No doubt.
Chad is either stupid, or wants Phelps to beat him.
Phelps is going to crush it tomorrow.
Guys, 1:52.8 will beat his impressive time from SA.
Chad just gave Phelps GAS,
Phelps is going to win, that is my theory.
He is swimming angry again 🙂

Reply to  SwimmerFoxJet
7 years ago

I’m not following your thought pattern. The old Goat is sitting in the corner looking angry, whilst the new King is bouncing around, massively up for it, after his “Clean Gold” in the 200 free. Chad is going to give him a good whipping tomorrow, and he is going to get really angry. How’s that going to help?

Reply to  Billabong
7 years ago


Reply to  Billabong
7 years ago

Thats cool and all you just better not dissapear from the comment section if phelps wins

Reply to  Q-tip
7 years ago

Poof. They disappeared. Phelps got gold while le Clos didn’t even get on the podium.

Reply to  SwimmerFoxJet
7 years ago

I predict a Phelps victory tonight – he looked like he was just cruising at the end of the prelims race last night. Not only do I think Phelps is going to win, I think he’s going to set another record.

7 years ago


7 years ago

Brilliant swimming!

Attila the Hunt
7 years ago

Say all you want about Chad but his suicidal pace and heroic attempt to hold on in the final stretch from Lane 1 is easily the most entertaining swim I’ve seen in this Olympics.

Irish Ringer
Reply to  Attila the Hunt
7 years ago

That last turn got him a medal.

7 years ago

It was embarrassing watching Le Clos antics behind the scenes at the 200m butterfly semis. So glad Michael Phelps beat him, what an idiot Le Clos has become.

7 years ago

Love the strategy, get out hard and let his competitive spirit bring it home.

7 years ago

It worked in that it got him a medal, but it may have given the gold to Sun. I’m impressed he held on so well after that opening. It’s hard to imagine that that is the optimal strategy, and not unreasonable to say he could have been 1:44 mid with a smarter race. Not my call, and it’s way more olympic medals than I’ll ever have, but dang.

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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