Schooling on course for a three-peat
Schooling in the hunt for third straight NCAA title as he qualifies third fastest for 100-yard fly final
Swimmer Joseph Schooling is on course to win the 100-yard butterfly event at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Swimming and Diving Championships for the third year running, following his 44.97sec swim in the heats last night (Singapore time).
The 21-year-old Singaporean was the top seed in the event (44.06) going into the heats and will go into today's 6am final at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis in third place, behind his University of Texas (UT) teammate Jack Conger (44.44) and University of Florida's Caeleb Dressel (44.49).
Also, Singapore's Quah Zheng Wen, swimming for University of California, Berkeley, was fifth at the heats in 45.27.
Schooling is aiming to be the second person, after American Tom Shields' 43.84 effort last December, to break the 44-second barrier in the event, having set the NCAA record of 44.01 in his win last year.
The Olympic 100m fly champion had served notice of his intent when he clocked 43.60sec in the butterfly split yesterday morning, as UT won the 400-yard medley relay in a new NCAA record of 2min 59.22sec.
It was the Longhorns' third victory in a row in the event.
The UT undergraduate also finished third in the 50-yard freestyle, and was part of the UT quartet who won the 200-yard free relay yesterday.
I was a little disappointed with the results in the 50 free. But... I still have two days of competition.Joseph Schooling
He clocked 18.79sec in the 50 free, behind defending champion Dressel (18.23) and North Carolina State University's Ryan Held (18.60), in his debut in this event at the NCAA level.
Schooling said: "Of course, I was a little disappointed with the results in the 50 free.
"But it's okay, I still have two days of competition and, as a team, we know that the events over the next two days are our events, so we just need to continue the momentum."
He had clocked 18.34sec, albeit via a relay start, earlier in the final yesterday, when he anchored the Texas Longhorns to a 1:14.59 victory in the 200 free relay.
Schooling revealed that the hurt of losing the 800 free relay title to North Carolina on Thursday morning spurred him and his teammates on yesterday.
"It was not an ideal start. We set the American record and the timing was not too bad, just that NC State wanted it more," said Schooling, who did not swim in that relay.
"We swam like we had a chip on our shoulders today, like we had something to prove," he told Swimming World Magazine.
"We are 80 points ahead (in the championship standings), two days to go with our strongest events ahead of us.
"We are going to keep chipping away, keep our heads down, keep plowing through.
"The job isn't done until Saturday night when we jump into the pool."