Analyzing Le Clos’ 200 Fly Olympic Semifinals Strategy: Fly and Die


South Africa’s Chad Le Clos was swimming his own race in the 200 fly semifinal on Monday. He took out the first 100 meters of his semifinals 200 butterfly about 1.5 seconds faster than he did in prelims to lead the field by 1 second at the 50-meter mark and 2 seconds at the halfway point.

He split the race 24.45/28.23, charging  hard on the first 100 meters. He finished in 30.56/31.82 while trying to fend off the field of swimmers slowly devouring his lead.

Swimming out of lane eight, Le Clos turned his head to look down the pool at the swarm of competitors five times on the last 50 meters before putting his head down and throwing himself forward for three last strokes into the wall.

In prelims, the difference between Le Clos’ 2nd and 3rd 50 splits was .56. In finals, that difference grew to 2.33 seconds, an exhibit of a race plan that some call “fly and die.”

Although, when you are 2012 Olympic gold medalist Chad Le Clos, “die” still means you earn the #3 spot going into tomorrow’s final.

Le Clos touched the wall 1st in the first semifinal heat with a time of 1:55.06, .90 faster than his prelims time.

He gave a couple short nods after the race when he looked at the scoreboard, followed by a wave and thumbs up to the crowd, and a slight smile off camera. His coaches looked a bit chagrined at his strategy in the stands.

Splits Comparison: Prelims vs Semifinals

Le Clos Prelims Le Clos Semifinals
50 24.97 24.45
100 54.07 (29.10) 52.68 (28.23)
150 1:24.53 (30.46) 1:23.24 (30.56)
200 1:55.96 (31.43) 1:55.06 (31.82)

His prelims swim was more reserved on the front half (24.97/29.10) and he finished the race with a stronger 3rd 50 meters (30.46 compared to 30.56 in semifinals) and stronger on the final 50 meters (31.43 compared to 31.82 in semifinals.)

Compare Le Clos’ race to top seed Kristof Milak of Hungary who earned the top spot going into the final tomorrow with a time of 1:52.22.

Milak split the race 24.46/28.45/29.16/30.15 in semifinals, also slowing down on the back half of the race. But Milak had a smaller difference between his 2nd and 3rd 50 splits (.71) than Le Clos whose splits were separated by 2.33 seconds.

Splits Comparison: Le Clos vs Milak

Le Clos Prelims Le Clos Semifinals  Milak Prelims Milak Semifinals
50 24.97 24.45 24.8 24.46
100 54.07 (29.10) 52.68 (28.23) 54.01 (29.21) 52.91 (28.45)
150 1:24.53 (30.46) 1:23.24 (30.56) 1:23.32 (29.31 1:22.07 (29.16)
200 1:55.96 (31.43) 1:55.06 (31.82) 1:53.58 (30.26) 1:52.22 (30.15)

Both swimmers outdid their prelims swims significantly, by .90 for Le Clos and by 1.35 seconds for Milak.

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1 month ago

I’m trying to think of a joke about how Chad paces like Michael Andrew but I can’t think of one and I’m really tired. Goodnight swimswam, see you in the morning

1 month ago

His 4th 50 in semis was 31.82, not 31.28.

1 month ago

He did this strategy in the 200 free in Rio and that went pretty well so 👀

Texas Tap Water
1 month ago

Le Clos is always entertaining.

Reply to  Texas Tap Water
1 month ago

entertaining like a clown..

1 month ago

So what is he gonna do in finals, go out even faster??? Taking it out in a 51???

1 month ago

He’ll win the silver medal going out a 51

Reply to  Facts
1 month ago

He will be a nice rabbit for Milak.. I was hoping he were on de Deus side (A la Hwang)

Bean Doxall
1 month ago

In 2019 Milak dropped 2.23 between semis and finals. If he drops 2.23 from his 1:52.22 it would be 1:49.99!!!

David s
1 month ago

Still hasn’t broken 55 in years.
Hopefully he will in final