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Who’ll be cool to rule in the pool ?

by ZwemZa on July 24th, 2016

Stepping onto the pool deck at the Rio Olympic Games, Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh could make or break South Africa’s hunt for silverware.

Van der Burgh won the men’s 100m breaststroke gold medal in a world-record breaking time two days into the London 2012 Games.His time no doubt sparked the medal frenzy that followed with the team claiming four in total in the first week of the showpiece event.

Cameron van der Burgh. Credit: Reuters

Le Clos’ giant-slaying swim two days later almost overshadowed Van der Burgh’s impressive feat as he famously out-touched iconic American swimmer Michael Phelps by 0.05 seconds for the 200m butterfly title.

The world shared Le Clos’ disbelief and elation as he denied Phelps the opportunity to become the first man to win three gold medals in the same event at the Olympics.

Two days later Phelps would get one over the young pretender winning the 100m butterfly with the South African earning silver.Van der Burgh and Le Clos will spearhead the country’s 14-strong swimming team in Rio which includes only one female, Michelle Weber in the Open Water event.

Le Clos opens his account in the 200m freestyle before he goes in defence of his title in the 200m butterfly.The 200m butterfly is shaping up to be one of the highlights of Olympic swimming with the Phelps-Le Clos rematch dominating the narrative.

The duo has not faced off against each other since London 2012 with the American making a stunning return from retirement to renew their rivalry.

It would be naïve to think it will be a two-horse race between the heavyweights with world champion Laszlo Cseh of Hungary also expected to challenge for the title.Cseh tops the world rankings with his season’s best time of 1:52.91 with Le Clos and Phelps ranked fourth and sixth with times of 1:54.42 and 1:54.84 respectively.

Le Clos will go into the Games as the undisputed champion in the 100m butterfly, an event he has not lost a major championship since London 2012.

Cseh again tops the rankings with his time of 50.86s and is followed by Phelps in second place with his 51s, while Le Clos swam the third fastest time this year with his 51.09s from January.

Phelps could be going for his fourth consecutive title in the 100m butterfly while Le Clos would also like to extend his unbeaten run in the event.Freestyle specialist Myles Brown will be looking to set the pace for the swimming team when he aims at reaching the 400m final at his maiden Games on the opening day.

Van der Burgh will also launch his title-defending campaign on the first day when he gets into the pool in the 100m breaststroke.His tussle with British world record-holder Adam Peaty is set to be among the great rivalries at the Olympic Games.

Peaty became the first swimmer to break through the 58-second barrier to knocking almost half a second off Van der Burgh’s 100m breaststroke record with a time of 57.92 seconds in 2015.

The British swimmer will be going to Rio as the world champion taking aim at Van der Burgh’s Olympic title.Van der Burgh has rekindled his love for the sport winning the Fina World Cup series with an unbeaten run and beating Peaty in the final event of the series in Dubai.

Peaty boasts with the world leading time of 58.36s with rising American swimmer Kevin Cordes’ time of 58.94s ranking him second going into the Games.Van der Burgh’s preparations hit a slight snag due to illness with the star swimmer missing two meets in Europe last month.

US-based swimmer Christopher Reid emerged as a dark horse at the South African swimming championships in Durban earlier this year when he smashed Gerhard Zandberg’s national 100m backstroke record with a time of 53.12s.

Le Clos, Van der Burgh, and Reid could be part of a potent 4x100m medley relay team but they would need a freestyle swimmer to fire for a chance at a podium finish.

Other than Le Clos, no other freestyle swimmer has been able to get close to a sub-49 seconds 100m freestyle which would be a minimum requirement for the team to stand a chance of earning a place in the final.

SA aquatics team

Diving: Julia Vincent

Marathon swim: Michelle Weber, Chad Ho

Swimming Men: Chad le Clos, Jarred Crous, Dylan Bosch, Calvyn Justus, Cameron van der Burgh, Sebastien Rousseau, Michael Meyer, Christopher Reid, Matthew Meyer, Myles Brown, Bradley Tandy, Douglas Erasmus

Ockert de Villiers

From → African News

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