Chad le Clos is a South African swimmer who has taken the world by storm becoming Olympic, World and Commonwealth Champion, as well as winning FINA World Swimmer of the Year. 

He became South Africa’s most decorated Olympian at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and is now training for Tokyo 2020. 

Born in 1992, his competitive nature and determination to win shone through from an early age. He joined Seagulls Swimming Club aged eight, under the guidance of Graham Hill, who remains his coach. Clos started swimming competitively aged 10 and by the age of 14, he had already made the senior Olympic squad.

The rest, as they say, is history as he has gone on to win several gold medals and received worldwide acclaim. Clos has not forgotten his roots and he is always keen to help other young people, particularly from previously disadvantaged communities, reach their full potential. 

In 2016 he established an elite training squad. In April 2018 he established the Chad Le Clos Academy, at Hoërskool Jan van Riebeek in Cape Town. Taking a well-rounded approach to development, the new Chad le Clos Academy aims to transform the way swimming is taught in South Africa, from beginner through to elite level. 

Infographic by TYI

The structured and world-class CLeC Academy programme will ensure that swimmers enjoy the learning experience and remain in the sport for as long as possible. 

“I would like to thank the Headmaster and governing body of Hoërskool Jan van Riebeek for all their help. I am excited about the new base here for our new elite squad,” he says. “It feels amazing to inspire young athletes. In a way, I know what it feels like to look up to people. If they look at me as inspiration, they must not look at me too much in awe. You have to respect your competitors. But one day, you should try and beat them. Hopefully, they get to beat me at a later time.” 

Clos urges young people to stay focused on their dreams and to never give up. “I know what it feels like to look up to other athletes. I know what it feels like to get picked on. A lot of people in South Africa told me that I was not good in swimming and that I was never going to make it. But I never listened to those people,” he says. 

Clos warns youth that there will be many distractions, “You just need to sacrifice and think about the bigger picture. I always had a goal in mind. That’s the most important part- your goals,” he says.