JOHANNESBURG - With four weeks to go before the FINA World Championships in Budapest, Chad le Clos is making good progress ahead of the global swimming showpiece.
Meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican City, the Olympic gold medallist will hope his hard work and some divine intervention will see him reclaim his 200m butterfly title.
Le Clos was the only South African swimmer in action at the weekend’s Sette Colli Gala where he won the 100m butterfly and finished second in the 200m event.
The South African swimming sensation touched the wall first in the 100m butterfly in a time of 51.65 seconds.
He was followed by Italian duo Piero Codia and Matteo Rivolta, second and third in 51.93 and 52.30 respectively.
Buoyed by the world-leading time of 51.29 he posted at the South African Championships in April in Durban, Le Clos will be confident of successfully defending his 100m butterfly in Budapest.
Le Clos went toe-to-toe with 200m butterfly favourite Tamas Kenderesi of Hungary in Rome over the weekend.
Kenderesi, who finished ahead of Le Clos in the 200m butterfly at the Rio Olympic Games for the bronze medal, narrowly beat the South African in the Italian capital.
Le Clos will take confidence from his performance in the 200m butterfly as he dipped below 1:55 for the first time this season.
He took the race out fast, turning first in 53.86 after the first 100m with Kenderesi following behind him in 55.26.
The Hungarian pipped Le Clos over the final lap, touching first in a season’s best 1:54.33.
Posting his fastest time this season Le Clos raced home in 1:54.87 beating Japan’s Daiya Seto (1:56.05), who boasts the second fastest time in the world this year.