Chad le Clos. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Chad le Clos. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

Olympic and Commonwealth Games medallist Chad le Clos has opened a swimming academy in Cape Town which is intended to transform the way swimming is taught in South Africa.

"We are by far the best swimming nation in the world pro rata‚ with two world titles out of a possible 19‚" said Le Clos‚ who made history at the Commonwealth Games this month.

He is the most decorated swimmer in Games history with 19 medals‚ five of them in Australia this month.

South African swimmers were victorious against the odds‚ he said in an interview ahead of the launch.

"South Africa does not even have 3‚000 registered swimmers and we have two [world] titles. America has 300‚000 swimmers and nine titles‚" said the winner of four Olympic medals.

"The academy has been a passion project of mine for about five years and I’m launching it for the next generation of aspiring young athletes.

"I want people with a positive attitude to have the opportunity to be the best they can be and have fun.

"Athletes should not be retiring at 17 or 18 years old because they worked too hard when they were young‚" said the relaxed-looking Le Clos‚ who turned 26 on April 12.

The Chad le Clos Academy was opened at the Quadrant in Claremont‚ but he hopes it will be the first of many.

The structured programme aims to change instruction from beginner to elite level and to focus on stroke development and fitness from the age of five.

"I really want to see the growth of swimming as a sport‚ both in SA and ultimately across the world‚ by helping existing swimmers improve and encouraging beginners to learn our sport and develop life skills‚" said Le Clos.

Learn-to-swim and elite programmes will be implemented at future venues in collaboration with partners. In the long term‚ the Clack Academy aims to expand to international venues.

Kathryn Nurse‚ an academy director‚ said: "It is a privilege to partner with a sportsman of such high calibre and a gentleman of such true humility. We are confident that we can take his vision and make it a reality."

Academy director and board member Julian Taylor said: "As South Africa’s most decorated swimmer‚ Chad le Clos has already ensured he will always be remembered as an icon.

"Hopefully this academy will be able to play another key role in expanding his legacy at all levels of the sport‚ both at home and abroad."

Le Clos said he hoped to be able to live in South Africa full time after the next Olympics in 2020.

"I am in a position to give back and have a positive influence over kids‚ which is very powerful‚" said the down-to-earth champion.

"Thanks to all South Africans for their support and the positive message for the future of South African swimming."

© Business Day