JOHANNESBURG – Chad le Clos dipped below his previous 200m butterfly world record to collect his 12th World Short-Course Championship medal in Hangzhou, China, but it was not the ending he had in mind.
The South African swimming sensation had to be content with silver after perennial challenger Daiya Seto of Japan usurped him of his crown and world record.
Yesterday’s defeat put an early end to Le Clos’ pursuit of a third consecutive sweep of the butterfly events at the championships held in a 25-metre pool.
Le Clos touched second in a time of one minute 48.32 seconds, just 0.08 seconds behind Seto, who ended the South Africans hopes of a fourth 200m butterfly title after earning the top stop at 2010, 2014 and 2016 editions.
Swimming in lane one, Le Clos had some work to do, but he got out of the blocks like a rocket to establish an early lead over the first 50 metres.
The pair were involved in a real battle with Seto taking a narrow lead in the second half of the race, which he held on to despite Le Clos posting the fastest split for the final lap.
Le Clos still broke the African record and dipped below the global mark he set in 2013 by chopping 0.24 seconds off his previous best.
China’s Li Zhuhao rounded off the podium in third place posting a national record of 1:50.39.
“I can’t say anything bad, I swam a world record but unfortunately I got beaten,” Le Clos said.
“Daiya Seto is a great guy, great champion. It stings to lose like that. I think he had the lead the whole way if I was looking correctly underwater. Tonight was his race. I swam well, I got the world record, I have no regrets.”
Fellow South African stalwart Cameron van der Burgh will have a chance of adding to his six medals in his fifth appearance at the World Short-Course Championships since 2008.
World record holder Van der Burgh posted the sixth fastest time of the semi-finals after finishing third in his race with a time of 56.90 seconds. It is nine years since Van der Burgh set the world record of 55.61 seconds in Berlin.
Making her debut at the senior world championships, teenager Rebecca Meder missed out on reaching the 400m individual medley final after finishing ninth in her heat with a time of 4:39.31.
Ayrton Sweeney also missed out on a place in a final by finishing ninth in his 200m individual medley heat with a time of 1:58.76.@ockertde