Schooling smashes 8-year record at US meet
Singapore's Olympic champion gets collegiate season off to a flyer
From his 2014 Commonwealth Games silver medal in Glasgow to his three-medal showing at the Incheon Asian Games in the same year, Joseph Schooling has blazed a trail in the pool that culminated in the first time Majulah Singapura was played at the Olympics last August.
The 21-year-old butterfly specialist showed no signs of letting up since his history-making 100m butterfly gold- medal win in Rio de Janeiro when he splashed his way to another record in the United States yesterday morning (Singapore time) - this time in the freestyle.
At the Big 12 Swimming and Diving Championships in Texas, Schooling (right) won the 50-yard freestyle in 18.76 seconds at the Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Centre, taking down two records in the process.
He stopped the clock 0.08sec faster than Jimmy Feigen's conference mark set in 2009 as well as Ian Crocker's meet record of 19.18 that has stood since 2004.
Schooling's time was also the second fastest clocked in the 50-yard freestyle in the US this year.
The 1.84m-tall swimmer beat University of Texas teammate Jack Conger (19.27), who is also an Olympic gold medallist in the 4x200m relay, with Texas junior Brett Ringgold (19.29) finishing third.
The Big 12 is a 10-school multi-sport collegiate competition.
The swimming competition is held in the short-course format, featuring 25-yard (22.86 metres) laps instead of the 50m laps that feature at the Olympics.
"I had a good race, I prepared well for it. Of course breaking a record is a bonus," said Schooling yesterday morning.
"It is less than a month to the NCAAs (National Collegiate Athletic Association swimming championships) and I am happy with the timings that I have clocked so far.
"I am on the right track, I feel good and I am at where I want to be, so I just need to remain focused," added Schooling, who was named the Big 12's Newcomer of the Year in 2015.
Schooling is not yet done with the Big 12 meet yet.
At press time, he was preparing for the 100-yard butterfly preliminaries.
Speaking to The New Paper before that race, he said: "I am looking forward to my fly events and the relays.
"I had a good swim one day ago in the relay (won gold in 1:24.23 in 200-yard freestyle relay) and today in the 50-yard freestyle.
"Of course, it is always good to have things starting well for you and it will give me the confidence to do well in the following events."
Schooling's Texas Longhorns lead the Big 12 with 398 points at the halfway mark of the swimming championships.
They have won the last two editions of the NCAA, and Schooling wants to keep that run going when the competition kicks off in Indianapolis next month.
"I am still focused on the fly events, but the NCAA meet is all about making sure that the University of Texas continues to defend our title as the overall champions," he said.
"I will leave it to Eddie (Reese, Longhorns head coach) on his plans for the NCAAs, he knows best for the team and me." - ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY LIM SAY HENG