Every South African a Swimmer

Resurgent Le Clos leads medal charge at World Short Course Championships Down Under

Resurgent Le Clos leads medal charge at World Short Course Championships Down Under
Friday, 9 December 2022 - Over 1000 swimmers from 180 countries will converge on Melbourne, Australia next week for the 16th edition of the World Short Course Swimming Championships from 13-18 December.

Among them will be a team of 14 South African hopefuls, looking to make their mark after the majority of them were denied the opportunity at the same event last year because of the Covid travel ban imposed on the country at the time.

The only South African, in a drastically reduced team of four swimmers, to reach the podium at last year’s Championships was veteran Chad le Clos.

Le Clos just missed out on a fifth consecutive World Short Course Championships gold in the 100m butterfly in 2021, finishing second behind Italian Matteo Rivolta. He’ll be looking to get his hands back on that crown next week, along with the 200m butterfly, which he has won three times at these championships, but claimed a bronze last time out.

The 30-year-old star has recently switched his training base to Germany and produced a promising performance in the FINA World Cup series. He surpassed the 150-mark in career World Cup gold medals and finished third overall in the 2022 series.

“I think Berlin was a huge World Cup for me to get the confidence back, especially that first 100 fly when I went 48.5 [seconds]. It’s one of the best times I’ve done in six years so it was a huge, huge confidence boost,” said Le Clos of his recent performance.

“There was a change in me … just in the way that I approach races now, it’s kind of like the old style of Chad, not swimming like a desperate man. In the last two years, because I had such a bad run outside the pool, I just felt like I had a point to prove to everybody and I think that was hurting my performance… when it’s better just to focus on what you’re good at and not be so desperate about it.

“I would be very happy with two medals in Melbourne. I haven’t been world champion in four years so of course the dream is to be world champion – I’d be very grateful,” added Le Clos who has an incredible record of 10 gold medals at the World Short Course Championships since winning his first in 2010. He’ll be competing in the 50, 100 and 200m butterfly next week.

Meanwhile, also looking to reach the podium in Melbourne will be 19-year-old Matt Sates, who won the overall title in last year’s FINA World Cup series and finished fifth this year.

“I am feeling good heading into Melbourne. I love racing short course and I think the past two years have given me a lot of experience and so I am more comfortable knowing how to race each event,” added the Maritzburg swimmer who will be competing in the 200 and 400m freestyle and the 200 and 400m individual medley.

Two more teenagers who burst onto the international scene this year are also hoping to be in the mix in Melbourne – Lara van Niekerk and Pieter Coetzé, both of whom topped the podium at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Van Niekerk has since had foot surgery and only just returned to training but is relishing the chance to get back to racing.

“Training has been going well – I made sure to listen to the doctors and take it one step at a time getting back in the pool and that’s paid off. It was always going to be tight to prepare for the World Champs after surgery, but rehab went smoothly and everything healed as it needed to, so I have managed to get back to training 100 per cent again,” said the 50m and 100m breaststroke Commonwealth Games champion who also claimed a bronze medal at the long course World Championships in Budapest this year.

“I really just want to execute my race plans as well as I can and focus on soaking up the experience. Of course I would love a podium finish as well, but first priority for me is getting the best out of my body – the end result will take care of itself.”

18-year-old backstroke star Coetzé claimed gold, silver and bronze at the Commonwealth Games and is hoping his form will convert to short course competition, which is contested in a 25m pool.

“I would say I’m pretty confident heading into Melbourne. It is short course which I wouldn’t say is my strong suit with it having more underwaters and turns… but I have been trying to work on it so I’m just excited to see the improvement which I do believe there will be,” said Coetzé, who also claimed a gold, three silvers and a bronze medal at the World Junior Championships in Peru this year.

“I wouldn’t say everyone in the swimming world knows my name, but it is more out there, and I think that’s good. I like the extra pressure or the expectations that people have – I think it drives me… But I know exactly what I want and what I expect. And I think that’s the only thing that matters to me.”

Coetzé will be competing in the 50, 100 and 200m backstroke as well as the 50m freestyle.

Extra incentive for all the swimmers competing in Melbourne is the prize money on offer with a guaranteed US$2000 for reaching a final and $US 10,000 going to the winner. A swimmer breaking a world record will earn themselves $US25,000.

SA team at the World Short Course Championships 2023:

Women: Caitlyn de Lange, Milla Drakopoulos, Stephanie Houtman, Rebecca Meder, Hannah Pearse, Dakota Tucker, Lara van Niekerk, Emily Visagie

Men: Pieter Coetzé, Simon Haddon, Clayton Jimmie, Kian Keylock, Chad le Clos, Matthew Sates


*Photo credit: FINA

For further information please contact:

Swimming South Africa’s Marketing Coordinator

Mmathapelo Phale

011 404 2480 / 074 363 0001

Swimming South Africa is the governing body of aquatics in South Africa.

Its objective is to encourage the practice of aquatic disciplines for all in South Africa with the purpose of promoting swimming as a life skill through Learn to Swim programmes; providing healthy exercise to South Africans of all ages and races; recruiting recreational swimmers to compete in the various competitions; and promoting competition and athlete development to the highest level. Swimming South Africa is kindly supported by SASCOC, National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, Arena, Sport & Recreation SA and Rand Water.