Le Clos Feels Phelps Return Would Be Great For The Sport

  14 Jeff Grace | February 23rd, 2014 | Africa, Europe, Featured, International, News

South African Olympic and World Champion Chad le Clos made an appearance at the winter Olympics in Sochi representing Omega. While in Russia he talked about the possibility of Michael Phelps returning to competition, “The rumor is obviously trickling down all the way to South Africa. Everyone is talking about it,” le Clos told SuperSport.

“It would be great for the sport if he comes back. It would be great for me. I do welcome the challenge from anybody. If you want to win a gold medal, you want to beat the best.”

“I gave him one of his very few silvers.”

In 2012 the South African was the first man to beat Michael Phelps in his signature event, the 200 butterfly, in a major international competition since the 2002 Pan Pacific Championships. Since that time le Clos has gone on to win the 100 and 200 butterfly at the World Championships, break the short course world record in the 200 butterfly and win the overall World Cup title.

Whether Phelps returns to the pool or not it looks like le Clos will be following his example. It was recently revealed that he will be seeking eight national titles at the South African National Championships in April and could be swimming up to seven individual events at the Commonwealth Games this summer in Glasgow.

“I want to try and just see how many I can handle,” said le Clos. “The Commonwealth Games will give me a good indication. I’m not the kind of guy that likes to swim races and come fourth or fifth. I want to be among the medals and I want to be competitive.”

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14 Comments on "Le Clos Feels Phelps Return Would Be Great For The Sport"

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2 years 8 months ago

So Le Clos will swim 8 events: 50/100/200 fly, 200/400 IM, 100/200 free, and 200 back at RSA natiionals.

It will be a tall order for him to win 7 titles (to equal RSA record), let alone 8.
He will start as heavy favorite in 5 events: 100/200 fly, 200 IM, and as a slight favorite in 1 event: 200 free (Darian Townsend’s 200 free PB is only 0.05 seconds slower).

In the other events, he is not the fastest south african. Schoeman is decidedly faster in 50 fly, Sebastian Rosseau swam 4:11.11 in 400 IM last year, faster than le Clos’ PB of 4:12.24, Gideon Louw is more than half second faster in 100 free, and Darren Murray’s 200 back PB is more than a second faster than Le Clos’

And although his goal for Glasgow (winning 6 medals from 7 individual events swim) is more modest compared to his stated ambition for RSA nationals, it is by no means easier.

Le Clos is world’s #1 in 100/200 fly, so he’ll get two medals from those events. But for the other 6 events, here’s the list of his potential commonwealth competitors who swam faster times in the past 2 years than Le Clos’ PBs:

200 IM: Daniel Tranter (AUS), Roberto Pavoni (ENG), Justin James (AUS), James Goddard (ENG), Joe Roebuck (ENG).
400 IM: Thomas Fraser-Holmes (AUS) and Sebastian Rosseau.(RSA)
50 fly: Matt Targett (AUS), Jason Dunford (Kenya), Geoff Huegill (AUS), Roland Schoeman (RSA), Benjamin Proud (ENG), Kelly Aspinall (CAN), Mitchell Patterson (AUS)
100 free: James Magnussen (AUS), James Roberts (AUS), Cameron Mc Evoy (AUS), Gideon Louw (RSA), Matt Targett (AUS), Adam Brown (ENG), Eamon Sullivan (AUS), Brett Fraser (CAY), Kenneth To (AUS), Tomasso Dorsogna (AUS), Kyle Richardson (AUS), Matt Abood (AUS)
200 free: Thomas Fraser Holmes (AUS), Robbie Renwick (ENG), Kenrick Monk (AUS), Bret Fraser (CAY), Cameron McEvoy (AUS), David McKeon (AUS), Ned McKendry (AUS), Matthew Stanley (NZL), James Guy (ENG).
200 back: McNally, Craig (ENG), Lawson, Matson (AUS), Larkin, Mitchel (AUS), Kean, Gareth (NZL), Walker-Hebborn, Christopher (ENG), Goddard, James (ENG), Beaver, Joshua (AUS), Delaney, Ashley (AUS), Oriwol, Tobias (CAN), Loughran, Marco (ENG), Bassett, Kurt (NZL), Mahoney, Travis (AUS), Bennett, Ryan (ENG), Stoeckel, Hayden (AUS), Patching, Joe (ENG), Murray, Darren (RSA), Jarvis, Calum (ENG), Carlisle, Jonathan (ENG), Main, Corey (NZL), Edmonds, Ben (AUS), Crous, Charl (RSA), Boldison, Charlie (ENG), Greenbank, Luke (ENG), Crosland, Kurt (NZL), Camm, Braiden (AUS), Hawes, Matthew (CAN), Myers, Matthew (CAN) , Swanston, Matthew (CAN).

Granted, each country and territory will be represented by a maximum of 3 swimmers per individual event, but that’s still a lot of stronger (or at least equal) competitors especially in 200 back. So my guess is he’ll swim 200 back in RSA trials but drop it in Glasgow.

But If he swims all 8 individual events in Glasgow, here’s my current prediction:
50 fly: no medal (Schoeman, Targett and Proud will take top three in no particular order)
100 fly: gold
200 fly: gold
200 IM: silver (that’s my optimistic prediction)
400 IM: silver (same here)
100 free: no medal (will be good achievement already to get to final)
200 free: no medal (3 australians may sweep the medals)
200 back: if he swims it, getting to final will be a gargantuan task knowing Australia, Canada, British Isles, and New Zealand each has three faster 200 backstrokers).

On another note, I am very intrigued that there is no mention if he will swim in the relays as well. Surely he will have to swim in all three relays if RSA field the relays? (he is their fastest flyer for 400 MR, he is their fastest 200 freestyler for 800 FR, and he is top 2 or 3 fastest 100 freestyler for 400 FR).

Will he really attempt the Hosszu-an 10 or 11 events?

My guess is not. So it will be interesting to see which relay he will have to say no to RSA swimming officials.

2 years 8 months ago

But of course le Clos knows what it takes to do the impossible. He’s done it before in London.

On that note, I agree with Le Clos: Phelps returning will be great for the sport and the fans.

2 years 8 months ago

If he really wanted Phelps to come back he should say something like “I don’t think he should come back because he’s well past his prime and I will beat him hands down”. That might light the fire.

2 years 7 months ago

Le Clos is not stupid.A one(or two) trick pony Phelps would be a menace for him(Phelps swimming only two events).

Kevin T
2 years 7 months ago

If I were Phelps I wouldn’t even think of making a comeback. He has absolutely nothing to prove. The amount of work that he would have to do, and at his age, to be the best 200 free, 100 fly, 200 fly, 200 im guy in the world…….it’s almost impossible. Not impossible, but come on does he really want to put in that kind of work with no guarantee to be a top contender again?

I would just enjoy golf if i were Phelps. Enjoy life. No more training. He’s been there, done that, and got the T- shirt.

2 years 7 months ago

well its a “well know secret” that phelps is in the water at meadowbrooks periodically.. what that means, no one is saying. especially those close to him like luschinger, dwyer, schmitt and most definitely the coaching staff

TX Swimmer
2 years 7 months ago

Le Clos has been a lot of talking lately. He should be a bit more humble and let his swimming speak for itself

2 years 7 months ago

Le clos fluked a gold on a horrible finish…acts like he’s a god lol..weak at best

2 years 7 months ago

Le clos fluked a gold on a horrible finish. Still talking but not even close to phelps..

2 years 7 months ago

Come on… yes Le Clos talks, but let’s give the due to the guy

He swam 1:52.96… that’s not a fluke. Phelps himself has swum faster than 1:52.96 only once in textile

You are dismissing Le Clos’ 200 gold because Phelps had bad finish, then using the same logic Phelps shouldn’y have won the 100 fly in Beijing.

2 years 7 months ago

But if you want to talk about the biggest fluke 200 fly Olympics win of all time, here’s who you should know: Misty Hyman.

Hyman swam 2:05.88 to beat the super heavy favorite Susie O’Neill in Sydney 2000.

Hyman NEVER swam faster than 2:09 BEFORE or AFTER the Sydney Olympics

2 years 7 months ago

Although he’s never really said anything that was outright arrogant, I don’t feel that Le Clos is the most down to earth swimming around. He talks of wanting to emerge from the shadow of the title “Phelps Slayer”, but then again what kind of athlete would he be otherwise. Chances are, he’s already had the greatest moment of his career. Sure, he may drop times, take on different foes in different events, even break a world record or too, but from a historical perspective, unless he was going to put himself in the same sentence as Phelps in terms of legacy, Olympic historians would note him as the guy who beat Phelps in 2012. That said, I don’t think we’ve seen Leclos at his best. He is still an incredible athlete and we’ve seen him post a 1:47.1 in the 200free when not fully tapered. A 1:45 this year is possible and puts him in medal contention with any of the Australians.

It appears his real goal this year is to push his barriers in the IMs. In London, his coach believed he could’ve set a time that would medal. The IM’s, especially the 400 edition is really witnessing a Game of Thrones type battle to see who’s really the top dog. There’s definitely a few names who’ve put their names forward to battle out for the top times, and who’s winning the important races, but it seems like a true scramble at the top and establish a new King in the IMs. I would not doubt LeClos’ name in that competition. But amongst the Commonwealth swimmers, LeClos is probably hard to bet against, even though Thomas FraserHolmes has swum faster times.

Overall, it’s definitely hard to know what he’s going to do this year, and more importantly in two years, but there’s a few things I’m sure of. He is definitely going to become a more well rounded swimmer than in 2012, he is capable of becoming an international medal contender in at least 4 individual events by 2016 (200freestyle is still a long shot), and he will become the third man in history to break 51 in the 100fly in textile.

2 years 7 months ago

Oh yeah, 200back in Rio will be one of the densest events at the top. There most likely to 2 Americans, 2 Japanese, and a Pole pushing for 1:53 or better to win a medal. The gap between them and a wall of 1:56 is a tough gap to bridge for the rest of the field, including LeClos. ALso, it conflicts for a much more realistic medal prospect in the 200IM.

I think the 200back/200IM is a double that people won’t realistically attempty for another 10 years or so, unless, Hagino…

2 years 7 months ago

I am still feeling disappointed that Lochte did the double 200 back/IM in London. Had he swum either instead of both, he’d have gotten a gold instead of bronze and silver.

And I think Hagino has learnt a very expensive lesson in Barcelona and will not repeat the crazy schedule in Rio. but he should do the crazy schedule in non worlds/olympics, such as in Asian Games and Pan Pacific, just like what Le Clos is gonna do in Glasgow.


About Jeff Grace

Writer Jeff Grace brings a wealth of experience in the sport, including the most relevant as a feature-writer for Swim News Magazine. As a former Nationally-ranked age group swimmer in Canada, Grace has been deeply immersed in the sport for decades. In addition to his time as a writer and a swimmer, …

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