VETERAN sprint ace Roland Schoeman could be all that stands between Chad le Clos and the young star’s bid to win an unprecedented eight individual titles at the South Africa championships in Durban next week.
Le Clos, who turns 22 next Saturday, is the top seed in seven races, with the sole exception being the 50m butterfly, in which Schoeman, 33, is a two-time world champion.
Schoeman, who pioneered the world’s first sub-23-second swim in 2005, has never lost to Le Clos in an Olympic-sized pool.
But Le Clos has been narrowing the gap — his entry time is just 0.32sec behind Schoeman’s.
“It’s going to be close,” predicted Le Clos’s coach Graham Hill, who shares the record of seven South Africa crowns with another of his proteges, Terence Parkin, the Olympic 200m breaststroke silver medallist from Sydney 2000.
But he warned there was a risk that Le Clos’s gut-busting schedule — 19 races in five days — could sink him as the week draws on.
Le Clos is the favourite in the 100m and 200m fly, 100m and 200m freestyle, 200m and 400m individual medley (IM) and 200m backstroke, but he will have little room for error against US-based students Dylan Bosch (200m fly, 200m IM), Sebastien Rousseau (200m fly, 400m IM) and Brad Tandy (100m freestyle), who all performed well at the recent inter-university gala, and even training partner Myles Brown (200m free).
Schoeman is relishing the clash in the short fly, with the final set for Wednesday evening. “It’ll be great to have two