With just about every other swimmer around the world, 27-year-old Chad Le Clos of South Africa saw his Olympic preparation hurriedly disrupted with the unfolding of the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic.
Just days before the Tokyo Organizing Committee confirmed that this year’s Olympic Games would be moving to 2021, the nation of Turkey where Le Clos’ Energy Standard is based, was set to go into lockdown. All athletes and coaches had roughly 36 hours to leave the country, knocking the original 6-7 week training plan completely off course.
With a few days’ worth of reflection under his belt, South Africa’s most decorated Olympian is looking to next year’s Games now in earnest, with Le Clos already tossing around new schedule ideas.
“It does change things for me a bit now,” Le Clos told ESPN of the postponement. “I was solely focused on the 100- and 200-metre butterfly, but I have built up such great resilience that I will be looking to add an event or two next year.
“I don’t know what those are yet, but I have had a great 12 weeks of preparation since the beginning of the year. It was my best camp ever. I was prepared to swim really fast at the Olympics, but by next year I will be even more prepared.
“So if the program stays the same, and they stick with morning finals [for the U.S. television market], extra events are a big possibility.
“If they move them to the evening before then it would be a problem because you lose half a day of rest and recovery time. But I will be preparing to swim as much as possible.” (ESPN)
After upsetting American Michael Phelps for gold in the 200m fly, as well as snagging silver in the 100m fly at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Le Clos crashed he men’s 200m freestyle party in 2016.
At that edition of the Games in Rio, Le Clos finished with the silver in the 2free behind winner Sun Yang of China. Although the Capetown native missed the 200m fly podium in 4th, he did repeat as the men’s 100m fly silver medalist.
Le Clos was entered in 3 events at last year’s FINA World Aquatic Championships, adding the 100m free to his bread-and-butter 100m and 200m fly events. He earned bronze medals in the latter events but wound up not swimming the former.
The man is South Africa’s national record holder in the 200m free, owning a lifetime best of 1:45.20 from that aforementioned silver medal-worthy performance in Rio. For the 100m free, Le Clos represents his nation’s 3rd fastest performer all-time, possessing a PB of 48.15. That outing garnered him a silver medal, tying the reigning Olympic champion in the event, Kyle Chalmers of Australia.
No matter which event Le Clos may add to his double fly repertoire, he is in the same boat as most other swimmers in terms of having to stay mostly dry at the moment, although he does have a small pool at home that allows him to swim stationary via a tether.
But he says, “this is definitely not a break for me. As soon as I am allowed to train properly, I will jump straight back in the pool.”