Libby Trickett: Joseph Schooling has nothing to worry about
National swimmer Joseph Schooling is heading to next week's Fina World Championships having clocked 54.63sec in his pet 100m butterfly event last month, over four seconds off his Olympic gold-medal time from Rio 2016.
But four-gold Olympic champion Libby Trickett believes the Singaporean has "nothing to worry about", as the bigger target is next year's Tokyo Olympics.
"As important as the world championships are, most people are focused on Tokyo next year. For me, Worlds was always about doing things the way I'd want to do them at the Olympics," said the 34-year-old Australian, after a sharing session with local swimmers at the National Youth Sports Institute yesterday.
"Whether it's testing different race processes or different warm-ups, it's about understanding where your body physically is, and then going back to the drawing board to take it to the next level at the Olympics."
Schooling was far from his best at last month's Singapore National Swimming Championships.
The 24-year-old was not only well off his Olympic record timing of 50.39sec, but also finished sixth in the 100m fly heats. Schooling and his coaches then decided to withdraw him from the meet to keep him "fresh" for the July 12-28 world championships in Gwangju, South Korea.
National head coach Stephan Widmer, who also coached and groomed Trickett, shared that the Singapore contingent will use Gwangju as a "transitional meet".
He said: "I want them to achieve their personal bests and win, but more so, I want them to come home knowing themselves better and knowing how to perform in those intense environments."
Trickett, who was also a guest at the Singapore Olympic Foundation-Peter Lim Scholarship ceremony on Wednesday, added that Schooling is "an exceptional, talented athlete".
"I watched him win in 2016, but it's funny, I kept watching (it) back to see how he dominated that race. It was amazing," said Trickett, who is 20-weeks pregnant with her third child.
She knows a thing or two about comebacks, having recovered from slumps in her 10-year professional career.
After the 2009 world championships, where her only individual medal was a bronze in the 100m freestyle, she announced her retirement after reaching "a dark place".
Although she was never diagnosed with depression, she spent nine months away from the pool before returning to competitive swimming.
She then went on to win her fourth and final Olympic gold medal in the 4x100m free relay at the 2012 London Olympics before retiring a year later.
She said: "In a lot of ways, I do wish I could have just taken a break rather than retire.
"Ultimately, you can only learn from these moments and it doesn't show its lessons until years later.
"That led to the experiences in London, to me being passionate about mental health and prepared me for life after sport in such a wonderful way."
Canadian International School student Gia Singh, who attended Trickett's sharing session, left inspired.
"I like her passion. I swim and dance as well and didn't know which to pursue, but she told me to do both my hobbies," said the 11-year-old.