GWANGJU, South Korea (AP) — South African swimmer Chad le Clos is facing possible groin surgery following the world championships.
Le Clos, who beat Michael Phelps at the 2012 London Olympics to earn gold in the 200-meter butterfly, won bronze in the same event at the worlds. He also was third in the 100 butterfly.
"It was such a tough week for me all around," Le Clos said Sunday. "I have to accept whatever it was this week, I can't cry over it."
Part of the problem for le Clos was muscle weakness caused by a herniated groin.
He will meet with doctors Friday and try rehabbing for 4-to-6 weeks before proceeding with surgery if there is no improvement. Le Clos expects to be out of the pool for 3-to-4 weeks following surgery.
He first injured his groin in 2009 and in the 10 years since has never been able to fully heal it, citing the injury as one of the main reasons he switched from breaststroke to butterfly early in his career.
"I was never able to swim breaststroke again," he said.
Doctors through the years were unable to pinpoint the exact issue.
The injury worsened in the weeks leading up to the world championships. After seeing a specialist in Qatar earlier this year, le Clos felt confident the problem had finally been properly diagnosed.
In the 200 fly, Le Clos lost to Hungary's Kristof Milak, who broke Michael Phelps' world record. In the 100 fly, le Clos lost to American Caeleb Dressel, who broke another of Phelps' world marks.
Still, le Clos feels a sense of accomplishment.
"I was slow this week, I know that, I'm not an idiot," he said, "but for me the big moments are those battles when you have to dig down to get the bronze."
Le Clos is hoping his recovery is rapid. He's planning to compete in the new International Swimming League starting in October before focusing his training on next year's Olympics.