Dubai: Chad le Clos is no stranger to Dubai. This is the South African swimmer's third visit inside a year and one can understand why he calls the city his second home.
The talented teenager collected gold in Dubai at last year's Fina World Swimming Championships (25m) after powering his way to victory in the 200m butterfly. That performance came soon after Le Clos bagged two gold, a silver and a bronze medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, as well as a five-medal haul, including gold, at the Youth Olympics in Singapore earlier in the year.
Speaking to XPRESS ahead of the Fina/Arena Swimming World Cup which will be held at the Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Sports Complex from October 7-8, the 19-year-old said: "Dubai forms an integral part of my training ahead of the London Olympics.
"I will be swimming in all seven world cup series events starting here. I will get my first indication of where I am heading since the short course season starts here."
Given that like all other top-class swimmers, his focus is on the London Olympics next year, Le Clos sees the short course as an important step towards the longer course.
"The short course events give you that explosive feel and help you in the quick turns, besides other small things that you don't get the chance to work on in the long course," he said.
And Le Clos hopes to take it forward from where he left off last year. "Last year was a breakthrough year for me. I went into the Commonwealth Games a bit apprehensive with all the adverse publicity surrounding the event. But it was fun and I had a good time in the pool. I also won gold here in Dubai. I will probably be competing in three events here, hoping to improve my time from the previous world cup series in 2009," he said.
Le Clos is a big Michael Phelps fan and will be racing against the great man in London. "I grew up watching him and will try and get one over him and Ryan Lochte in London. I will be taking part in the 200m butterfly, 100m butterfly, 400m Individual Medley, 200m Individual Medley and the relays in the Olympics. I will be looking to enjoy myself there," he said.