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By Sports Reporter


Le Clos chasing Commonwealth Games medals record in Birmingham

Youngsters Lara van Niekerk, Matt Sates and Pieter Coetze will also be hoping to make an impression.

With the country’s athletes struggling for form – as witnessed at the recent World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, USA – it may be up to the swimmers to lead South Africa’s medal charge at the Commonwealth Games, starting in Birmingham this week.

Tatjana Schoenmaker, the Olympic gold and silver medalist and world record-holder, will spearhead the charge as she looks to defend her 100m and 200m breaststroke titles.

Also, Chad le Clos, South Africa’s most decorated swimmer, will be out to add to his 17 medals already won at three Commonwealth Games.

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Le Clos needs one more medal to tie – and two more to break – the record for the most medals collected at the Games, so he has plenty reason to swim hard in England. The current record is held by shooters Phillip Adams and Mick Gault.

At the last Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia in 2018, swimming was the sport that produced the most gold medals for Team South Africa with six. They also added three silvers and three bronzes to the overall South African haul.

Le Clos claimed three golds and a silver as well as a bronze in the 4x100m medley relay while Schoenmaker walked away with two golds.

Le Clos withdrew from the World Championships in Budapest recently with breathing problems but maintains he’s back on track.

“It took me a while to get back but I’ve been working hard in my training,” he said from his base in Plymouth in the UK. “I’ve really taken this year very seriously, I’ve been working on a lot of different aspects of my game in order to get myself ready for Commonwealths so this has always been the focus for me.”

Now 30 years old, Le Clos will be competing in the 50, 100 and 200m butterfly as well as the 100m freestyle and believes the South African men can also do something special in the 4x200m freestyle and 4x100m medley relays.

There are a number of youngsters on the team who will be looking to follow in Le Clos and Schoenmaker’s footsteps, including the likes of Lara van Niekerk (who recently claimed bronze in the 50m breaststroke at the World Championships in Budapest) and teenage Olympians Matt Sates and Pieter Coetzé.

The swimming programme kicks off on Friday and runs until 3 August.

SA Swimming team at the Commonwealth Games:

Men: Guy Brooks, Pieter Coetze, Brenden Crawford, Michael Houlie, Chad Le Clos, Andrew Ross, Matthew Sates

Women: Aimee Canny, Emma Chelius, Dune Coetzee, Kaylene Corbett, Erin Gallagher, Rebecca Meder, Olivia Nel, Michaela Pulford, Tatjana Schoenmaker, Lara van Niekerk
Men’s Para: Christian Sadie
Women’s Para: Alani Ferreira, Cornelle Leach