Swimming: Joseph Schooling's freestyle first

Joseph Schooling, seen here in action during last year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, was "a little disappointed" with his NCAA 50-yard freestyle timing, which was 0.02sec slower than in the heats. But he was glad to have played his part in the Univer
Joseph Schooling, seen here in action during last year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, was "a little disappointed" with his NCAA 50-yard freestyle timing, which was 0.02sec slower than in the heats. But he was glad to have played his part in the University of Texas' two golds in the 400-yard medley and 200-yard free relays.ST FILE PHOTO

Bronze in 50-yard race is Schooling's maiden individual medal at NCAA C'ships for stroke

The Republic's Olympic champion Joseph Schooling won his first individual freestyle medal at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Men's Swimming and Diving Championships in Indiana, clocking 18.79sec to finish third in the 50-yard freestyle final yesterday morning (Singapore time).

While the University of Texas (UT) junior has won medals in his past two NCAA Championships appearances, this is the first time he is on the podium in an individual freestyle event, finishing behind defending champion Caeleb Dressel (18.23sec) and Ryan Held (18.60sec).

Dressel, a University of Florida junior, has won the event thrice running. He was also the top finisher in the heats with 18.38sec, while Schooling was second-fastest with 18.77sec.

The Singaporean also won two relay golds yesterday.

The 21-year-old had earlier anchored the Texas Longhorns to victory in the 200-yard free relay. He did not swim in the heats, but clocked an 18.34sec final lap to overtake the University of Florida and win the final.

He and team-mates Brett Ringgold, Jack Conger and Tate Jackson clocked 1min 14.59sec in winning the race.

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    Medals Joseph Schooling won on Day 2 of the NCAA swimming championships.

Schooling was also part of the gold medal-winning quartet in the 400-yard medley relay, where he swam the butterfly leg in 43.60sec - the fastest fly split in the field.

The UT quartet comprising John Shebat, Will Licon, Schooling and Ringgold set a new United States Open record of 2min 59.22sec en route to retaining their title.

The University of California, Berkeley (3:01.51) and University of Missouri (3:01.91) were second and third respectively.

Schooling admitted he was "a little disappointed" with his 50-yard freestyle results, but was glad to have done his bit in yesterday's relay victories.

Pointing out that his 43.60sec effort in his fly leg in the 400-yard medley relay improved on his 44.01sec which he clocked in winning last year's 100-yard fly title, he added: "I think I did well to help the team win the 200-free relay, and that is all that matters - to put points on the board for Texas."

The Longhorns are top in the team standings after the second day of the March 22-25 competition with 225.5 points, and hold a sizeable lead over Berkeley (143) and Florida (138.5).

"I still have two days of competition, and as a team we know that the events over the next two days are our events," said Schooling. "So we just need to keep continuing the momentum."

The reigning 100- and 200-yard butterfly champion, who holds the NCAA record in both events (44.01 and 1:37.97) will defend his 100-yard fly crown this morning (Singapore time). He posted 44.97sec to win his heat and finish third overall last night while compatriot and fellow Olympian Quah Zheng Wen clocked 45.27sec to also win his heat and place fifth overall.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2017, with the headline 'Joseph's freestyle first'. Print Edition | Subscribe