Two-time Olympian Chad le Clos claimed an impressive three medals at the opening leg of the 2018 FINA Swimming World Cup in Kazan, Russia over the weekend.
Le Clos was the top performer, winning gold in the 200m butterfly and silver in the 100m butterfly and 200m freestyle.
He rounded off his performance in the pool with the 200m freestyle silver medal on the final evening of swimming action, clocking 1min 48.10sec, behind the USA’s Blake Pieroni, who led from start to finish to take the spoils in a time of 1:47.32.
The South African swimming star brushed off a surprise defeat from the first day to turn in a gritty fight to win the 200m butterfly gold medal on Saturday against Russia’s Daniil Phakomov, who held a slight lead for the majority of the race.
At the last turn, Pakhomov had a 0.72-second lead over Le Clos but the South African surged over the final half lap to out-touch the Russian and post a time of 1min 56.58sec to Phakomov’s 1:56.90, with Hungarian David Verraszto finishing in third place with 1:59.03.
The Olympic gold medallist was edged out in the final of the 100m butterfly on Friday with USA rival Michael Andrew winning by a whisker in a time of 51.96sec, beating Le Clos to the wall by 0.04 seconds with the South African sharing the silver-medal position with Russia’s Egor Kuimov as they touched at the same time of 52.00.
Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Ryan Coetzee just missed out on a medal, finishing behind Le Clos and Kuimov and posting a new personal best of 52.10, while in the 100m freestyle, he swam to another personal best of 49.88 to finish fifth.
During the first day of the series, Coetzee finished seventh in the 50m freestyle in 22.66sec and ended off the competition with a fifth-place finish in the 50m butterfly in a time of 23.45sec.
In other SA action, Max Kieser missed out on a place in the 100m butterfly final, finishing eighth in his heat in 58.48, while in the 100m freestyle heat he clocked 53.81 and ended in fifth place.
James Dhooge featured in the 100m freestyle heats but could not advance to the final, finishing seventh in his preliminary round clocking 54.85.
The next leg of the FINA Swimming World Cup Series is scheduled for Doha, Qatar from Thursday to Saturday.
PHOTO: Le Clos in action, by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images