Returning from Australia as the most decorated swimmer in Commonwealth Games history, Chad le Clos will soon head back to the grindstone with an eye on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Le Clos swept the 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly gold medals, and bagged 100m freestyle silver and 4x100m medley relay bronze at the Gold Coast showpiece.
“It is special. I am very proud and very happy,” Le Clos said after the launch of his CLeC Academy in Cape Town on Friday.
“This time it was mostly gold and silver. Individually it was the best week for me.”
He lifted his career medal tally at the Games to a total of 17 .
“For me, the highlight was definitely the last relay on the final night because I swam a 50.10 (in the butterfly leg) which is the second fastest split in history in the relay, and that was after 16 races,” he said.
“There is still a lot for me to improve on and get better, so I am happy. Even though it was a bronze, I am still very proud.”
But there was little time to rest for Le Clos, who knew full well he did not have a monopoly on chasing dreams.
He confirmed he would take a month off to recover before starting his next training block ahead of the World Cup series and the IAAF World Short-Course Championships in Hangzhou, China in December.
Le Clos was looking to add to his 11-medal career haul at the global short-course championships before his focus turned in earnest to Tokyo 2020.
“I am going to take a month off, recover and get ready for the next Olympic cycle where I will just train,” he said.
“I will train through the Mare Nostrum season and just start the World Cups. I am not going to race too much this year.”
Le Clos, who turned 26 earlier this month, was hardly long in the tooth, but he had a host of younger opponents doing incredible things in the pool.
New American hero Caeleb Dressel had perhaps emerged as the biggest threat to Le Clos’ medal charge at next year’s Fina World Championships and the Tokyo Games.
Dressel won three individual gold medals — 50m, 100m freestyle and 100m butterfly — at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest, and the 21-year-old swimmer came within 0.04 of breaking American legend Michael Phelps’ 100m butterfly world record.
Le Clos believed it was only a matter of time before Dressel broke the world record, but the South African would do everything in his power to join the sub-50 second club.
“I have to get those flies out of the way because I have Dressel in the 100m fly, who is going to break the world record this year,” Le Clos said.
“There is also the young Hungarian boy that is 18 years old (Kristof Milak). He swims almost faster than I have in my life, so at the moment I am not the favourite in any of those races.”
The South African swimming sensation revealed he would give the 100m freestyle more attention after taking silver at the Gold Coast Games in a new personal best time of 48.15.
“The 100m freestyle was such a good knock. I enjoyed it and I was in a great position and it felt like I had won it. It was tight,” Le Clos said.
“I knew it was going to be fast and it was with 48-lows. A 47-high would have been great but it is a personal best time for me.
“I am going to give the 100m freestyle a good go. It was my first time swimming it and I have a lot to improve on.”
The four-time Olympic medallist launched the CLeC Academy at the Quadrant in Cape Town this week, and he hoped the programme would produce future swimming stars.