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Michael Phelps and Chad Le Clos leave short-term rivalry behind for shark-diving plan

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Gold medallist Chad le Clos and silver medallist Michael Phelps of the United States (Getty Images)

Gold medallist Chad le Clos and silver medallist Michael Phelps of the United States (Getty Images)

LONDON – Michael Phelps is planning to celebrate the end of his swimming career by embarking on a thrill-seeking vacation with Olympic rival Chad Le Clos.

After beating Le Clos in the final of the 100-meter butterfly on Friday night, avenging his defeat to the South African in the 200-meter version, Phelps revealed that he and Le Clos are planning to go cage diving with sharks as soon as their schedules are free.

Phelps and Le Clos are likely to head to the coast off Cape Town, at the southern tip of South Africa, to undertake the adventure.

“We have been talking, and it has been cool to get to know him,” Phelps said of Le Clos, who at 20 years old is competing in his first Games. “I keep telling him that I want to cage dive. That is something that we are going to do. We are going to go cage diving in South Africa together once this is all over.”

[ Related: Phelps's mom reveals his retirement plans ]

Bert Le Clos, whose joyous and touching celebration after his son beat Phelps on Tuesday night went viral on the Internet, told South African television that his family would roll out the welcome mat for Phelps.

“It would be our pleasure to welcome him,” said Bert Le Clos. “He is a great champion, but more importantly he is a great human being. He has been very kind to Chad, who has always looked up to him as a legend.”

The Le Clos family hails from Durban, on the eastern coast of South Africa, but it is Cape Town, a short flight away, that offers some of the best cage diving in the world. Cage divers can come face-to-face with powerful great white sharks while remaining safely within a specially designed cage.

Phelps has anointed the hugely talented Le Clos as his heir apparent, saying he has the capability to compete in multiple events at different distances. Over the course of these Games, the two have become firm friends.

[ Video: Is Michael Phelps the greatest Olympian ever? ]

“He seems like a normal guy,” Phelps said. “We were talking about FIFA, about video games; he plays on PlayStation, but I only play Xbox. We still think we can beat each other. It is that competitiveness, and it is cool to see.

“It is cool that Chad said he is bummed that I am leaving [swimming]. I'm seven or eight years older than him; he’s still a kid, and it is all in front of him.”

Le Clos has emerged as a star in his own right in London, especially in his homeland, where his exploits have generated huge levels of attention.

“I remember watching Michael on television in Athens when I was a kid, and to have the chance to race against him and know him is hard to believe,” Le Clos said. “He has done amazing things in the sport, and he is a legend.”

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