Chad le Clos 2.0 | The Competitive Drive

Last year, le Clos walked away with nine medals – five gold and four silver – to finish third overall in the men’s competition, just behind USA’s Nic Fink and Trinidad & Tobago’s Dylan Carter. It was a return to form for the 31-year-old Durban, South Africa native – one he dubbed “Chad le Clos 2.0,” saying had got back his “warrior spirit.” Le Clos carried the positive World Cup momentum into the 2022 World Swimming Championships (25m) in Melbourne (AUS) where he took gold in both the men’s 100m and 200m butterfly.

The double-medal effort saw le Clos earn his 19th and 20th medals at the short course worlds (and 11th and 12th golds) as he closes in on USA’s Ryan Lochte for the all-time individual wins and medals from the world championships in the 25m pool.

A Model of Consistency

If you remember hearing a race announcer call a butterfly World Cup final that ends in a le Clos win, there’s good reason for it: no male athlete has recorded more race wins and podium trips than the South African’s 151 golds and 222 total medals on the Swimming World Cup during their career.  Coming off a mid-season hampered by illness, look for le Clos to be back at his best this October in Berlin (GER), Athens (GRE) and Budapest (HUN) as he takes on the likes of Hungary’s Kristof Milak, Trinidad & Tobago’s Dylan Carter and a host of other butterfly medal contenders.

A four-time Olympic medallist and four-time World Champion in the 50m pool, look for le Clos to not miss a stroke moving back to the long course metres format for the 2023 edition of the Swimming World Cup.

With just under a month until the Swimming World Cup gets underway again in Berlin, we caught up with the affable South African.

Last year, you really seemed to be enjoying competing on the Swimming World Cup. We’ll never forget the “Chad Le Clos 2.0” that was on display. What did it mean for you to get back to winning global races last year?

Image Source: Mike Lewis/World Aquatics

It meant the world to me to win my first race in a long time with such a great time 48. I knew I was back because I had changed a lot of things in my life. I was done with losing and that’s when Chad 2.0 was born. 

You seemed to carry that great form and general vibe into the World Swimming Championships in Melbourne last year. How did racing on the Swimming World Cup help set you up for success in Melbourne – and beyond?

Image Source: le Clos celebrates victory in the 100m butterfly at the 2022 short course worlds in Melbourne (Morgan Hancock/World Aquatics)

Yes, I was very proud of the way I carried my form through the world champs. Winning in Melbourne felt a little like winning Olympics because I had been written off by the swimming community, but people didn’t know that I haven’t been myself since Covid. 

You’re coming off a long bout of illness earlier this year. How does racing in this year’s Swimming World Cup help set you up for success in 2024 – a year with the Doha Worlds and the Paris 2024 Games?

Image Source: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

My year started off great. I was in great shape until after the nationals in April/May and then I got really sick for 6 Weeks and have been struggling a little since. So these world cups are important for me to get the momentum back for next year February and of course July. 

With this year’s tour visiting Berlin, Athens and Budapest are you especially interested in racing in one of these cities? If so, why?

Image Source: Istvan Derencsenyi/World Aquatics

They are all very special because, firstly, I always love the European legs and racing in the Middle East. Berlin was the birth of Chad 2.0, Athens will be the first time competing in the city where the South Africans destroyed everyone in the 4x100 Free Relay. And of course, Budapest. This is one of my favourite swimming venues; I love the fans In Budapest and I hope they will cheer for me like they always do.


Contributing: Gunnar Bentz