The Star Early Edition

Le Clos is in top form

It might be early in the year but the world champion is in fine fettle


OLYMPIC gold medallist Chad le Clos brought some star-quality to the first leg of the SA Swimiming Grand Prix in Nelspruit yesterday when he posted an Olympic qualifying time of 51.82 seconds in the men’s 100m butterfly.

South African swimmers are expected to reach the qualifying times at the SA Championsh­ips in April but Le Clos already dipped below the mark of 52.36sec. “I am one second from my best time from the World Championsh­ips, to do that in January is not too bad and to do it in the conditions of training I am thrilled with the time,” Le Clos said.

“I am very happy with that swim. It is right where I wanted to be and that was my goal time for Mare Nostrum in six months time and at nationals.”

He was followed by Clayton Jimmie with 55.15sec with Even Vorster touching in third place clocking 55.85sec.

Le Clos posted the second fastest time in a textile suit ever at last year’s World Championsh­ips in Kazan, Russia when he touched the wall in 50.56 seconds to retain his world title.

A day later American swimming legend Michael Phelps responded with a time of 50.45 seconds which was faster than his 100m butterfly winning time at the London 2012 Games.

It was clear Le Clos had his sights on Phelps’ world-record time of 49.82sec he posted in Rome in 2009. “I need to take off two seconds to break the world record at the Olympics, so it is a good start for me,” Le Clos said.

“It is a long way to go but it is a huge step in the right direction in terms of the way I am swimming at the moment and the hard training we are in.

“We had a very hard week of training so I am very surprised at how fast I swam.”

Swimming partner Myles Brown also produced a strong swim in the 200m freestyle clocking 1:49.23 which is little over a second short of the Olympic qualifying time of 1:47.97.

“I’m just happy that I could do a decent time in the morning that would get me through to most finals overseas,” Brown said. “It’s a bit slow compared to what I am used to but so early in the season it is pretty good, I was hoping to take it out slow and come back harder which I managed to do.

“It is important over these Grand Prix’s to try and swim as fast as possible in the mornings emulating what we will be doing overseas.”

Calvyn Justus finished behind him in second place posting a time of 1:51.24 with Egyptian swimmer Marwan Elcamash taking bronze in 1:52.45.

Brown said he hoped to swim times that are faster or close to the qualifying standard during the Grand Prix series that will run until February.

“This first Grand Prix is pretty much a benchmark and we are looking at where we are right now, and it is a stepping stone to the next one where we look to be a bit quicker,” he said. “We will be looking to hit those qualifying times in the Grand Prix because it takes off a lot of pressure knowing you can do it in training.” ON THE WARPATH: Stephen Cook of the bizhub Lions laid the foundation for his team’s draw with 118 runs in the first innings during the Sunfoil Series match against the Cape Cobras at Boland Park, Paarl.

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