Chad can dominate freestyle – Ryk
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Chad Le Clos has dominated the butterfly events since the London 2012 Olympic Games, but South African swimming legend Ryk Neethling believes the country’s golden boy can become a force in the 100m freestyle, too.
The 23-year-old has dabbled with the 200m freestyle on a few occasions but demonstrated he has the speed to drop down and compete in the 100m freestyle.
At the first leg of the Fina Swimming World Cup in France, Le Clos unleashed a new personal best time in the 100m freestyle, clocking 48.16 seconds which was also the sixth fastest time this year.
Neethling, a member of the “awesome foursome” that won the gold medal in the 4x100m freestyle relay at the 2004 Athens Games in world-record time, said Le Cos could dominate the blue-riband event in years to come.
“We will always remember Chad for that one race but I think his best is still to come in the 100m freestyle – but maybe not in the next year,” Neethling said.
“From 2016 onwards we will see him develop into one of the best swimmers in the 100m freestyle and butterfly.”
Since he famously out-touched American swimming icon Michael Phelps in the 200m butterfly at the 2012 Games, Le Clos has been without an equal at major championships.
His vice-like grip on the butterfly events slipped at this year’s Fina World Championships in Kazan, Russia when Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh finished ahead of Le Clos in his pet event.
Le Clos shrugged off the disappointment and produced the fastest swim to win the 100m butterfly in a new South African and African record time of 50.56 seconds only for Phelps to go one better, clocking 50.45 a day later at the US nationals.
Neethling believes Le Clos could pick up silverware in the 100m freestyle event as early as next year’s 2016 Rio Olympics.
“I’ve had a look at the schedule and the final of the 200m fly is on the same day as the semi-final of the 100m free but I don’t know which one is first,” the former world bronze medalist said.
“I think he will go for the 100m free in Rio and I think he stands a good chance at winning a medal, considering he is already swimming low 48s.”
Le Clos advanced to the final of the 200m freestyle at this year’s World Championships where he finished in a creditable sixth place while his time of 1:46.10 in the semi-final was the ninth fastest this year.
He is likely to add the two freestyle events to his repertoire at next year’s Olympic Games, and should he continue on this upward curve, Neethling’s predictions could come true.
“I think he could become one of the best in the 100m freestyle after Rio. He has the speed, he’ll grow in strength, he’s got the length, he’s got everything,” Neethling said.
“It is the prestige event, and it will be tricky doing both the 200m fly and the 100m free ... but I think he can do it.” - The Star