Which Champions Will Keep Their Crowns In Kazan? The Form Guide: Men’s Butterfly

Chad Le Clos (RSA) takes a peek [By Patrick B. Kraemer]

In our series looking ahead to the World Championships, we’ve started to consider which titles will be defended and how the holder is shaping up. After men’s free, back and breast, we turn to butterfly

Want to read more? Our Basic subscription package allows you to access
to all articles barring specific content for Premium and Business
members. Select which service best suits you. Thank you for your
support of independent journalism and quality coverage of world-class swimming.

Log In Register

In our series looking ahead to the World Championships, we’ve started to consider which titles will be defended and how the holder is shaping up. After men’s free, back and breast, we turn to butterfly



I would not be surprised if de Deus went 1:54 low even 1:53 high.. on his 1:55:19 he was with a 1:24:6 at 150 mark.. if he can keep a 29 low on the last 20 it is possible to go that fast..

50 Fly: Santos, Cielo, Govorov
100 Fly: Le Clos, Czerniak, Shields
200 fly: Le Clos, Seto, de Deus

Bad Anon

Expecting Le Clos to crack 51sec and 1.53.5 100/200 respectively. the absence of Phelps will make the final an anti climax


If it’s only on the account of talent, Le Clos should clean up the fly events. But we know talent alone does not win you races.

I really really hope le Clos is training really hard. I do feel he has the talent to break Crocker’s WR and get close to Phelps’ 200 textile WR.


Ian Crocker’s incredible WR


The quality is not the best


In the 2007 world championships Phelps 50:77; Crocker 50:81

Bad Anon

To say Le Clos exceeded expectations in London Olympics is an understatement, his formline since 2010 pointed to a peak around 2016 when he was “expected” to medal. I’d say he was ahead of himself in 2012 but we should be seeing him going a PB especially on the 100fly where sub 51 is imminent. I think anything close to 1.53.5will be excellent for now as I dont see anyone capable of going faster than that at the moment . However come rio and with Phelps in the picture ,I can forsee Le Clos approaching 1.51.51wr, he will get close but may not eclipse that historic effort imho


I don´t think we will see Phelps swimming the 200 fly on Rio…

Craig Lord

Thanks allswim … Crocker 50.82

Craig Lord

a stunning swim, remember it well, aswimfan 🙂 well worth embedding…


Considering how bunched together this field is, it is not improbable that we can see someone we’ve barely heard of to make a significant drop in time. People have been swimming 51’s for over a decade and a half- this is the one event that hasn’t really advanced in quite some time. Seeing someone young and unheard of like Li from China suddenly dropping to a 50.5 shouldn’t be surprising.

From what I’ve seen from Leclos, I don’t feel that he’s “unbeatable” in any sort of form. Im confident someone will swim under 51 in Rio and not get a medal. This event is bound to pick up at some point.


Mr Lord: Thank you for that quote from Le Clos about looking around to see his competitors at the end of races! I always believed that was what he was doing! If he had been focusing on time rather than pace I feel sure that he would already have gone below 51 in the 100 fly.

Because he has had so few challengers in the 200 fly, I feel he has been focused on improving his speed and versatility, and I’m very impressed by his results. I couldn’t believe how fast he was in the 50 fly at the Commonwealth Games! Phelps could never have medalled in the 50 fly, even at the height of his career! He is also able to put up some creditable times in the 100/200 free now, which will make him more valuable to RSA for relays, and I understand he will be swimming the 200 IM in Kazan as well.

Having said all that, the pure sprint monsters will dominate the 50, like Santos, Cielo and Manaudou; their power is impressive, but I always wish there was a rule that you can’t compete in the 50 of the stroke races unless you also compete in the 100 of that same stroke to weed out the 50 free guys. I think it takes some of the glory away from people who work so hard to perfect their form in backstroke and fly (breaststroke seems to be spared, thankfully). Just my opinion…

Le Clos is smart, and he’ll be prepared to swim sub 51 and 1:54 in Kazan. Everybody else will be racing for silver/bronze. I have no doubt Seto will challenge him in the 200 and Shields in the 100; I hope they make it close to keep the races exciting for all of us. Honestly, I expect Seto to be closer to upsetting Le Clos, but it will make the 2016 US Trials more exciting if Shields can dip under 51 this summer too!

August 8th will be a big day for swimming fans! If I’m not mistaken, Le Clos and the Kazan crowd will get the chance to race their hearts out in the 100 fly and then a few hours later Phelps will get to show us all if he can beat their times in San Antonio, Texas at US LC Nationals! I’ll be holding my breath in anticipation! 🙂

Craig Lord

John26, A drop to 50.5 by Li would indeed be surprising… it is taking seasons long for a terrific athlete like Le Clos to get down that way. Only one swimmer in history has gone below 50.5: Crocker, so when you say ‘people’ have been going sub-50 for a decade, you mean 2 extraordinary athletes unassisted by suits. That’s the reality. There has been no stagnation in the event. When Crocker clocked 50.40, the world top 10 year-end spread was 1 under 50, 3 under 52 and 7 from 52.2 to 52.69 – quite a bit faster now – 42 performances inside 52 last year, for example and No10 almost a second faster than a decade ago – I’d say that tells us the event has ‘picked up’ 🙂 … and bunching suggests someone like Le Clos will get below 51 if all goes well, not Li.
Li dropped 52.94 to 51.92 last year and this year is on 51.82 in year from 15th to 16th year. That would mean following a 1sec gain in a season at 15 with a gain of 1.5sec to the cusp of swiftest ever at 16 towards 17 this year in your scenario. That would be extraordinary, certainly beyond the experience of all around him among contenders.


There are many athletes physically capable of swimming the perfect time trial. Racing at the WC/Olympic level is what separates the fine physical specimens from those that have the head and heart for the podium as well as the physical tools.

Le Clos is dangerous because he’s whole package in that regard- huge talent that also has his head in the rigyt place, and he’s made the transition from young lion hunting the big names in the sport to being the one hunted by other swimmers, a type of pressure that many athletes crumple underneath.

Summary- as long as he’s healthy and fit, he’s a really hard guy to bet against.

Bad Anon

Le Clos is not unbeatable but its amazing how he completed world cup tour undefeated last year. He knows how to win 100/200fly and I think will continue to do so in the foreseeable future


In 50, if Manaudou shows the same start like World SCM, it s all over before the end.In 100 and 200, i hope to Le Clos step up his level.

My bets:
50:Manaudou,Cielo,Dos Santos
100:Le Clos,Czerniak, Shields
200: Le Clos, Seto, De Deus




Unless someone comes along to really push him in the event I don’t see Le Clos doing another sub 1.53. If he feels he’s got the 200 in the bag, he’ll do enough to win, but focus more on other events.

Hope 51 is cracked this summer, but doubt we’ll see something close to 50.5.

Rain Maker

The fly will be tough this summer and there’s a good chance that Le Clos won’t pick up a gold in any distance.

Leave a comment

Post a comment with your SwimVortex Account. Don't have a SwimVortex Account, Sign Up?

(*) Fields are required!