Johannesburg - South Africa's top swimming coach, Graham Hill, says teenager Chad le Clos is the best talent he has worked with and has tipped the teenager for a medal at next year's Olympic Games in London.
The two returned to the country this week after Le Clos won the Swimming World Cup series.
The 19-year-old bagged 23 gold medals, and 35 in total, in the seven World Cup events, while he also recorded victories over 14-time Olympic champion Michael Phelps.
"I've seen many swimmers in my time, but he's certainly the best I've come across," Hill said.
"He's got all the tools - speed, endurance and everything else one needs. He is a complete swimmer."
Hill has mentored the likes of Roland Schoeman and Ryk Neethling, both Olympic gold medallists with the SA relay team in Athens 2004, while Terence Parkin, the 2000 Sydney Olympics silver medallist, and Cameron van der Burgh, the current SA Swimmer of the Year, have also worked with the Durban-based coach.
Le Clos, however, tops the lot, according to Hill.
"I've worked with some really top athletes in the sport and Chad is starting to stand head and shoulders above these guys," he said.
"His achievements to date are quite remarkable."
Le Clos, who will take the next few days off before resuming training ahead of the Kwa-Zulu Natal Swimming Championships in December, said he was humbled by the assessment.
"It's great to know that, and to have the backing of Graham and the support of my family is important for me," he said.
"It's always important to work with someone you get on with very well. It plays a big role."
Hill believed Le Clos, who picked up gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships last year, would be a genuine contender for a podium place in London.
"Bearing in mind it will be his first Olympics, there is no doubt he will be a medal contender," Hill said.
"He's really progressed in these last few months, from his reputation to his maturity to all aspects as an individual.
"The aspirations weren't that big until recently, but now with everything that has happened, the aspirations are there from everyone.
"We need to put our heads down, work hard and shoot for it.
"He's proved to the world what he can do."