Le Clos Drives Energy Standard on His Return to Aquatics Centre for First Time Since Olympic glory
Chad le Clos and Florent Manaudou return to the scene of their respective Olympic glory to guide Energy Standard to the top of the European table despite final-race disqualification.
Chad le Clos returned to the pool where he first announced himself on the world stage as Energy Standard moved closer to the inaugural grand final of the International Swimming League by ending the first day of the European derby atop the table in London.
Le Clos won the 100m butterfly and the 4x100m medley relay and appeared to have made a golden finish to the session in the men’s 4x100m freestyle only for Energy Standard 2 to be disqualified for a faulty takeover.
Other notable performances came from Minna Atherton who was just 0.02secs off Katinka Hosszu’s 200m backstroke world record from 2014 in 1min 59.25secs, four weeks after she set a new global mark over 100m.
The London Roar swimmer then rounded out a backstroke double with victory in the 50m.
Energy Standard finished the first day with 238 points, 14 ahead of hosts London Roar, with the pair in all likelihood headed for the grand final in Las Vegas on 20-21 December.
Aqua Centurions (178) and Team Iron (165) made up the minor placings.
It was the first time Le Clos had competed at the Aquatics Centre since he shocked swimming and the wider world of sport by beating Michael Phelps at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Now 27, Le Clos has claimed a further three Olympic and seven world long-course (50m) medals, including four golds, but nothing will eclipse what came about in July 2012.
He said: “It was really beautiful; (being here) brought back some half tears."
“It (beating Phelps to claim gold) was the best moment of my life by far: it will always be the best moment of my life."
“When I get married or whatever I think it will still be the greatest moment of my life because I had looked up to him for such a long time. It was my dream moment.”
The South African dominated the 100m butterfly, his underwater phases so outstripping those of the rest of the field that there was clear daylight when he won.
Team-mate Florent Manaudou was back at the scene of his greatest sporting moment, seven years after winning the Olympic 50m freestyle title.
The Frenchman was first and second in the 50m freestyle and 50m backstroke respectively but it was his changeover with Ivan Girev that cost Energy.
He said: “I think for the team the relay and the skins are the best way to score a lot of points. I am so disappointed because we would have won something like 18 points so I am really disappointed about that but we are still first and it is the best way to end the first day.”
Eyes will now be on Manaudou to secure points in the skins - back-to-back, knockout 50m freestyle races which culminate in two swimmers in a head-to-head final.
He said: “I hope to swim fast tomorrow. It will be hard because Vlad Morozov will swim fast as well so let’s see. I am better than in Indianapolis and Naples so I will have to work on my skins form I guess."
“There are a lot of good swimmers on the 50 and I want to score points for my team.”
Team Iron came into the meet with a small chance of progressing to the final at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center next month but that involved implausible permutations.
Captain Katinka Hosszu won the 400m individual medley but she pulled no punches when asked about how she would inspire her team for the second day.
She said: “I do like to keep it real: I am not going to say to my team – oh, you are going to beat London and Energy Standard and we are going to make it to Vegas."
“I told them even yesterday that we are not going to go down without a fight – we are going to try to get every point we can and at the end of the day be proud of how we did and we did everything we could. And that is all we had, that’s it."
“We will congratulate the teams that beat us: it is really sad not to be in Vegas but on the other hand we did everything we could.”
Source: International Swimming League
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About the ISL: The International Swimming League is a global professional swimming competition launching in 2019 with teams in both Europe (Italy-based Aqua Centurions, France-based Energy Standard, Hungary-based Iron, and London Roar) and the United States (Cali Condors, DC Trident, LA Current, NY Breakers). The inaugural season will include matches in Indianapolis IN, Naples ITA, Lewisville TX, Budapest HUN, College Park MD, London GBR, and the championship finale at the 12,000-seat Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, NV. The ISL aims to create groundbreaking projects, in both form and content, exploring the full potential of competitive swimming while securing sustainable commercial growth in the sport.