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Explaining Michael Phelps' Rivalry With Chad le Clos

Michael Phelps' "rivalry" with Chad le Clos was on full display on NBC last night.

Prior to the 200M butterfly semifinals, Michael Phelps, 31, and the South African swimmer, 24, were both in the green room, getting ready for their heat. As the greatest Olympic swimmer of all-time listened to music, le Clos danced around, seeming to taunt Phelps a bit.

Phelps' wasn't fazed. In fact, he looked pissed off.

le Clos went on to stare Phelps down prior to their race.

Michael Phelps preparing for his Olympic race


Phelps ended up finishing in second while le Clos finished in third - both qualified for tonight's 200M butterfly finals.

After the qualifying race, Phelps was asked what he thought about le Clos' pre-race tactics.

"Nothing, honestly," he told NBC. "I was trying not to even look at him. He does his thing, I do my thing."

There is history here.

This really goes back to 2012 at the Summer Olympics in London, when Phelps was upset by le Clos in stunning fashion.

The 200M butterfly is probably Phelps' best event and heading into the London Games, Phelps had won two straight gold medals in the event at the Olympics.

Phelps was shocked by le Clos in the event in 2012, though.

It's perhaps the most-surprising result of Phelps' career.

A picture of Chad le Clos after winning the butterfly event.


A picture of the Olympics Men's 200m Butterfly standings.


The "rivalry" has continued ever since.

In 2015, there was some trash talk prior to the World Championships.

From NBC:

“I just did a [100m butterfly] time that [Phelps] hasn’t done in four years, so he can keep quiet now,” le Clos said on Eurosport. Six years, actually. Phelps hasn’t clocked 50.56 or better in the 100m butterfly since 2009, when he set the world record of 49.82.

Le Clos went on in speaking to more media in Kazan on Saturday.

“I’m just very happy that he’s back to his good form, so he can’t come out and say, ‘Oh, I haven’t been training’ or all that rubbish that he’s been talking,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “Next year [at Rio] is going to be Muhammad Ali–Joe Frazier.

Phelps, who's won 23 Olympic medals (19 Golds, two Silvers, two Bronzes), is set to square off against le Clos, who's won three Olympic medals (one Gold, two Silvers) in the finals of the 200M butterfly.

The final is set to air at 9:28 p.m. E.T. on NBC. We can't wait for it.