Along the same vein as Australian Olympic medalist Mitch Larkin just announcing his coaching change from longtime leader Michael Bohl, one of South Africa’s most successful swimmers has also made it public he will be making a move.
Multiple Olympic medalist Chad Le Clos announced today that he will be leaving South African National Head Coach, Graham Hill, a man under whom 24-year-old Le Clos has trained since he was just 8 years of age.
Arguably Le Clos’ most notable achievement under Hill was claiming gold over American legend Michael Phelps in the men’s 200m butterfly at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Since then, Le Clos has continued to be an international threat across the butterfly events, as well as increasing his presence in the freestyle events as well.
He surged to the top of the podium at the 2013 World Championships in the 100m butterfly and 200m butterfly events, while repeating the former’s world title in 2016. At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Le Clos surprise the field with an aggressive silver medal in the 200m freestyle, where his outing produced a 1:45.20 best time, a mark which also now rests as the South African continental record.
Although he finished off the podium in his 200m butterfly pet event, Le Clos held on to be part of a historic 3-way tie with Phelps and Hungarian Laszlo Cseh for silver behind Singaporean Joseph Schooling in the 100m butterfly.
In his official statement on leaving Hill, seen in its entirety below, the Seagulls swimmer says he will be training by himself for the remainder of the year before ultimately making a move to a new home club and coach. The World Champion says he feels ready to ‘try a different approach.’
Hill has been South Africa’s coaching leader at the Olympic Games since 2000 and remains Head Coach of the Seagulls Swimming Club in Durban. He has earned South Africa’s ‘Coach of the Year’ award multiple times at his nation’s Sports Awards, including most recently in 2015.
In an interview in 2014, Le Clos is quoted as saying ‘don’t fix what’s not broken’ in terms of why he’d stayed with childhood coach Hill into his elite years. “Why would I want to change a winning formula?,” Le Clos replied at the time when asked if he would consider moving coaches.
A man of Le Clos’ talent could most likely have his pick of potential training arrangements both domestically and abroad. But, with both of his parents battling cancer, Le Clos’ desire to stay close to home may play a huge factor in deciding where his next training base will be.
Life's a journey, time to lead mine. Thanks @grahamhill196 for EVERYTHING. Excited for the future- full statement: https://t.co/c9Vkj8CLWs
— Chad Le Clos (@chadleclos) September 15, 2016
“Graham Hill has done a great job as my coach for 14 years. We have achieved a lot together at every level of the sport: The Olympics, The World Championships, The Commonwealth Games and The FINA World Cups.
However, having considered everything, I have decided to end our agreement and will now start looking to find a new structure for 2017.
For the rest of the 2016 season, I will work by myself. Every athlete has to take responsibility for his or her own career and I feel ready to try a different approach.
I would like though to thank Graham for all his hard work, his advice and his friendship. I’ve been fortunate to have one of the best swimming coaches in the world living so close to my family home here in Durban. It has been an incredible journey together and he and his family will always remain good friends.”