Gold Coast 2018 | Chad Le Clos kicks off quest with fly races

South African Chad Le Clos will try to complete a trifecta of wins across the men’s fly events on the Gold Coast, but England’s James Guy and Ben Proud may crash his party. (Archive photo via Giorgio Scala Deepbluemedia – Inside Photo)

Gold Coast 2018: Chad Le Clos kicks off quest with fly races

Just under 7 years after having been announced as host of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast, Australia is ready to welcome athletes from around the world to compete at its newly renovated Optus Aquatic Centre. The swimming competition will be spread out over 7 days, with events in the 200m range and longer headed straight to finals after prelims, while the shorter events will follow the prelims-semifinals-finals format.

The men’s butterfly events fall on days 2, 3 and 4, with the 50m fly kicking things off on Thursday, April 5th. A pair of Australians in Grant Irvine and David Morgan, both 2016 Olympians, are shown as entrants across all 3 of the fly distances, while other key players, such as England’s James Guy, are holding off on the splash n’ dash.

South Africa will have 2 Olympians in the first fly sprint, represented by dynamo Chad Le Clos and teammate Brad Tandy. They’ll try to carry on the tradition of a dual podium placement in this event for the nation, following up with now-retired Roland Schoeman’s silver and Le Clos’ bronze from this race at the 2014 Games. A kid named Joseph Schooling from Singapore was 7th in the 2014 final, just for nostalgic purposes. Schooling has opted out of competing at this year’s Commonwealth Games, choosing not to defend his 100m fly silver from 2014.

Both Le Clos and Tandy will need to literally try to fly past England’s stud Ben Proud, as the 23-year-old reigns as the current World Champion in this event. The Energy Standard swimmer enters the meet ranked #2 in the world (22.96), just .01 behind Brazil’s ever-present Nicholas Santos. With Proud focusing on his 50 fly and 50 free specialities, he may prove too unstoppable for even the most elitist of sprinters like Le Clos and Tandy who have additional events to contend.

However, Le Clos will not want to be denied any butterfly gold medal, as he is striving to make history as the only man to have accumulated 19 medals across Commonwealth Games. The 200m freestyle Olympic silver medalist is the top seed headed into the 100m butterfly, an event in which he threw down a punishing 51.36 at his nation’s Trials. That’s just .07 off of what won the South African gold back in 2014 and rests about a second ahead of the field in the Gold Coast.

The next-fastest Commonwealth swimmer among the world’s current top 10 is Australia’s Brayden McCarthy, who is situated as 9th with a solid 52.22. But, freestyle maestro Guy has been steadily proving he’s a viable force across both the 100m and 200m fly races and lurks among the field in both. He enters with a season-best of 52.31 in the shorter event, although his personal best from Budapest is a stellar 50.67. If he is back to form, he could very much threaten Le Clos’ quest for hardware history.

The 200 fly will also be a hard fought battle between Le Clos and Guy, but there are additional threats among the candidates as well. Scotland’s Duncan Scott, two-time relay Olympic medalist, has steadily improved in this event, as has 17-year-old Jacob Peters of England. Peters wowed the Sheffield crowd at the British Championships, clocking significant personal best 1:57.17 to claim a Commonwealth roster spot.

Both Morgan and Irvine will be fueled by the home crowd across all of the fly events, however, which will only help get them to the wall that much more quickly when the piano is poised to take over. The men finished 1-2 in both the 100m and 200m fly at their national Trials last month, with Morgan leading the way with winning times of 52.32 and 1:56.73, respectively.

Picks for Men’s 50 butterfly:

  1. Ben Proud, England
  2. Chad Le Clos, South Africa
  3. David Morgan, Australia

Picks for Men’s 100 butterfly:

  1. Chad Le Clos, South Africa
  2. David Morgan, Australia
  3. James Guy, England

Picks for Men’s 200 butterfly:

  1. Chad Le Clos, South Africa
  2. James Guy, England
  3. David Morgan, Australia