Le Clos sets world record in S'pore

South Africa's Chad le Clos on his way to a world record in 1:48.56 in the 200m butterfly - the third time a short-course mark has been set at a World Cup leg in Singapore.

Chad le Clos is a young man in a hurry. But he learnt that patience pays off in the sweetest way last night when the 21-year-old South African broke the world (short-course) 200 metres butterfly record at the Fina World Cup meet.

He had missed it last month in Dubai, when he came as close as 0.03 of a second, and at the following leg of the series in Doha.

So he tweaked his strategy, he assessed his splits, and he fine-tuned his training - for Tuesday's swim at the Singapore Sports School.

At the same pool where he launched his international career three years ago at the Youth Olympic Games, he timed 1min 48.56sec for the second world record of his career.

He said: "Of course I picked this one. This pool is where it all began for me - a few years ago, at the YOG, my first gold medal, my first national anthem ever.

"This is my second world record, very happy to be here... I love Singapore."

Erasing his own mark of 1:49.04 timed in August, le Clos became the third swimmer to set an individual world record in the series here.

American Natalie Coughlin rewrote the 100m backstroke mark in 2007, the year the annual eight-legged meet was first hosted here, and her compatriot Peter Marshall broke the 50m back mark in 2009.

Le Clos blew the field apart on Tuesday as he touched home over four seconds ahead of second-placed Pawel Korzeniowski of Poland (1:53.59) and Yuki Kobori (1:55.39) of Japan, who was third.

But the record and victory did not come easy. It took a courageous swim - bursting ahead from the start - coupled with a spellbinding finish.

To cut time, most world-class swimmers keep their heads underwater, holding their breath for the last one or two strokes at the finish.

Le Clos took five strokes without breathing at his finish on Tuesday in a display of superior stamina.

On his race strategy, he said: "I wanted to be ahead of it. I wanted to control the race. I wanted to dominate the race to make sure that even if I didn't break it, I wanted to make sure that I was in front all the way."

The 200m fly was not the only event he won on Tuesday. He also claimed the 50m fly title in 22.24sec over compatriot Roland Schoeman (22.62) and Brazil's Nicholas Santos (22.63).

Meanwhile, the Australian 4x50m mixed medley relay quartet of Robert Hurley, Christian Sprenger, Alicia Coutts and Cate Campbell rewrote their own world record with a new mark of 1:38.02.

They had timed 1:39.08 in Tuesday's morning heats to beat France's mark of 1:39.54 set last month.

Hungary's Katinka Hosszu also continued to shine as she walked away with two golds (100m fly, 200m individual medley) and one silver in the 200m freestyle.

The two-day meet finished on Wednesday.

ugenec@sph.com.sg

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