Schooling vows to train harder to rediscover best form
S'pore swim star knows the formula to get back to the top, after disappointing Worlds campaign
Following his "disappointing" Fina World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, Singapore swim star Joseph Schooling already has a battle plan to propel himself to the top again.
And it is a simple one.
"As Eddie (Reese, his University of Texas coach) likes to say, there's no training smarter, you can only keep working hard," said a tired-looking Schooling, 22, at Changi Airport after his return home from the Worlds yesterday.
"He is very old school, old fashioned and I believe it. I could take six months off lifting a bunch of weights and get stronger, but I took away time from the pool, and that was the most important part.
"And as you can see, it didn't really go too well."
Last year's Olympic 100m butterfly champion went into the Worlds wanting to win the 50m and 100m fly titles, as well as to beat Michael Phelps' world record of 49.82sec in the event.
He finished fifth in the shorter race, and joint-third in his pet event, while it was American Caeleb Dressel who came close to beating Phelps' mark when he clocked 49.86sec to win the final.
Schooling, who will start his final year at the University of Texas later this year, will find some comfort in familiarity - from food to friends to his family home - in the next few weeks, as he prepares for the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.
But he will always carry the weight of his 2017 Worlds campaign, and use it as fuel for his journey towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where he aims to be a multi-medal winner.
I know what I need to do and I am looking forward to getting back to work.Joseph Schooling on reaching the heights again after the disappointment at Worlds
The former Bolles School student said: "It's going to be on my mind till I do something good the next time. Until then, it's however you frame it.
"I am going to use it as motivation, to go practise every day, put in 100 per cent, and I think this was what I needed to get back on track.
"The first year after the Olympics is always hard and that is something that I have said quite a bit and I don't want it to be an excuse, but part of the learning curve.
"I think this, in a way, was good, it happened the year after the Olympics. Right now, I know what I need to do and I am looking forward to getting back to work."
Phelps' world record is still very much on Schooling's mind in the years leading up to the next Olympics.
Schooling said: "I don't think it would be at the SEA Games, but definitely the Commonwealth or Asian Games (next year).
"I don't want to put a time stamp on when I am going to do it, but that's definitely still my goal."
His focus will now shift to the SEA Games, where he will swim three individual events - 100m free, 50 and 100m fly - and three relays.
The meet will also give him an opportunity to experiment with some new things - he changed his breathing pattern in the 50m fly in Budapest.
The Singaporean said: "I think the SEA Games would be a good meet to see where I am three weeks after the World Champs, to see how fit I am.
"I am looking forward to it."