Worlds: Schooling qualifies 4th for 100m fly final
Singaporean clocks season-best time of 50.78sec, with American Dressel heading the pack with 50.07sec
Singapore swimmer Joseph Schooling clocked a season-best time of 50.78 seconds in the men's 100m butterfly semi-finals at the Fina World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, early on Saturday morning (July 29, Singapore time).
He won his race and qualified fourth for the final early on Sunday morning, with American Caeleb Dressel (50.07sec) Briton James Guy (50.67sec) and Hungary's Kristof Milak (50.77sec) ahead of him. All three swam in the other semi-final.
Dressel's time is the best-ever in a textile suit, and he bettered his heats timing by 0.01sec. Only retired American great Michael Phelps, who owns the event's world record of 49.82sec, and Milorad Cavic (49.95sec) have clocked faster times than the 20-year-old American, albeit in the now-banned "super suits".
Of Dressel, Schooling, 22, said: "This guy is phenomenal, he has been having an amazing meet, and he's been on form.
"No one can touch him right now. It's pretty impressive, actually... and it makes for an exciting race tomorrow."
Schooling, who won the gold medal in this event in Rio last year with an Olympic record of 50.39sec, had clocked 51.21sec in the heats on Friday.
Before the semi-finals, he clocked his previous season-best of 50.96sec at the 2017 Speedo Southern Zone Long Course Sectional Championships in June.
The University of Texas undergraduate said he was "just happy" to win his "crazy fast" semi-final, where South African Chad le Clos finish seventh.
The 25-year-old won this event at the last two Worlds, in 2013 and 2015, but missed out on a place in the final after placing 12th overall with 51.48sec.
Australian Grant Irvine was the last qualifier, with 51.31sec.
Schooling said he is relishing the rivalry he will have with Dressel, leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but added that he is firmly focused on the final on Sunday morning.
He said: "I am looking forward to the rivalry that Caeleb and I are going to have in the next three years, but the most important thing is tomorrow's race.
"I am going to count on my ability to stand up and race as hard as I can. That's it. Experience (at the Olympics) helps, but tomorrow it's about who can race the hardest, and who can be the best."