JOHANNESBURG - South African swimming star Chad le Clos will go in search of a record fifth Fina Swimming World Cup series title when it kicks off in Kazan, Russia, tomorrow.
Last year Le Clos became the first men's swimmer to win four overall series titles, adding to his 2011, 2013, and 2014 victories in the annual short-course series. He was tied with fellow South African legend Cameron van der Burgh with three apiece while Ryk Neethling boasts two series titles.
The Swimming World Cup is contested over three clusters and in 2018 for the first time the series is held in both 50 and 25-metre pools. The first two meetings of the seven-gala series will be raced long-course in Kazan and Doha from September 7-15 with the remaining two clusters returning to the traditional 25m pool.
Le Clos won a total of 32 medals - 22 gold, nine silver and a bronze - throughout last year’s series and is five medals away from a total tally of 200 since 2009. He will return to the city where he won his second consecutive world 100m butterfly title but conceded his pet 200m butterfly crown to Hungarian Laszlo Cseh three years ago.
The series will give some of the world’s best swimmers racing experience ahead of the World Short-Course Championships in Hangzhou, China, in December. Ryan Coetzee, who shared a podium with Le Clos in the 50m butterfly at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, will be one of four South Africans in action in Kazan. They will be joined by United States-based swimmer James Dhooge and Max Kieser.
Meanwhile, Swimming South Africa (SSA) has announced that a more "inclusive" Athletes’ Committee headed by swimming legend Penny Heyns had recently been formed. The committee includes London 2012 Olympic champion Van der Burgh, Commonwealth Games double gold medallist Tatjana Schoenmaker and Open Water 5km world champion Chad Ho. It consists of eight athletes representing artistic swimming, swimming, water polo, masters swimming, disability swimming, open water swimming and diving.
“There were already some productive discussions that took place and some really good ideas that came from the athletes on what Swimming South Africa can do for the other disciplines,” said Heyns, who is also the chairperson of the Fina Athletes Committee and a member of the Fina Bureau.