– Chad Le Clos famously out-touched Michael Phelps to win Olympic butterfly gold and he said he now wants the great American’s world records after setting a new shortcourse mark in Singapore.
The South African caused a sensation last year in London when he beat the most successful Olympic athlete of all time by five-hundredths of a second in an epic 200m butterfly race.
Now Le Clos said he hoped to snatch the retired Phelps’s 100m and 200m butterfly records, set in 2009, after lowering the 200m shortcourse record at the Singapore leg of the World Cup.
“My next goal is to break one of Michael Phelps’s long-course records, eventually, maybe next year at the Commonwealth Games, or in 2015 at the world championships in Russia,” he said.
“It’s just about getting faster each year and the most important thing is to make sure that I keep dominating the events that I am dominating, and extending on other events like the freestyles and the individual medley races.”
After Olympic gold, Le Clos won both the 100m and 200m at this year’s world championships, contested in a traditional 50-metre pool rather than the 25-metre version used for shortcourse races.
His 1min 48.56sec swim late on Tuesday was his second shortcourse 200m butterfly record of the year after he also set a new world best in Eindhoven in August.
Le Clos, who won with 51.06 and 1:54.32 at the world championships, admitted he may never reach Phelps’s records of 49.82 and 1:51.51, but he added: “I want to try.
“Those records are really hard, 49 and 1:51 long-course is very difficult. But if you look at my times over the years I keep improving. If I don’t ever break them, I will definitely go down trying.”
Le Clos, who leads the overall World Cup standings, also won 50m butterfly gold and he will contest the 100m butterfly, 200m freestyle and 200m individual medley on Wednesday.
The 21-year-old admitted to feeling some nostalgia on his return to Singapore Sports School, swimming venue for the 2010 Youth Olympics where he won his first gold medal for his country.
“This is the pool where it all began for me,” he said.