Schooling breaks NCAA record

Singaporean improves seven-year mark to clinch fly event for second year running

A meet record was the icing on the cake when defending champion Joseph Schooling touched home for gold in the 100-yard butterfly event at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division One Men's Swimming and Diving Championships on Friday.

The University of Texas sophomore's time of 44.01sec at the McAuley Aquatic Centre in Atlanta eclipsed the previous mark of 44.18sec set by Stanford's Austin Staab in 2009.

Florida's Caeleb Dressel came second in 44.40sec, while Schooling's team-mate Jack Conger was third with a swim of 44.87sec.

Schooling, who has been based in the United States since 2009, made his NCAA debut last year in Iowa, and his time of 44.51sec last year was still the second-fastest in history behind Staab's mark.

The 20-year-old Singaporean was pushed early by Dressel, his former team-mate at Bolles School. The World Championships 100m fly bronze medallist led at the turn with 20.4sec to Dressel's 20.8sec, and he held off a spirited challenge from Dressel to clinch gold.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK

Regardless of how he does in the NCAA, I believe he's on the right path to the Olympics... Each time I speak to him, he's saying that he's getting stronger, faster and better.

SERGIO LOPEZ, national swimming coach, on Joseph Schooling's preparations for the Olympics in August.

That individual title marked Schooling's fourth gold medal in this four-day meet. He also clinched a bronze in the 200-yard medley relay on Friday.

The Texas Longhorn swimmer had earlier won three relay titles for his college. He bagged the gold in the 800-yard freestyle relay on Wednesday, adding the 200-yard freestyle relay and 400-yard medley relay golds on Thursday.

In the 400-yard medley relay, he also clocked the meet's fastest-ever 50-yard fly split of 43.34sec, beating Tom Shields' 43.48sec mark set in 2013.

Even though Schooling still has the 200-yard fly (6am today, Singapore time), his showing at the NCAA Championships augurs well as he attempts to win Singapore's first swimming medal at the Olympic Games in August.

He will be competing in the 100m free and the 100m and 200m fly in Brazil.

But national coach Sergio Lopez is cautious about drawing a link between the swimmer's performance in the NCAA short-course meet and his preparation for the Olympic Games.

The Spaniard said: "Regardless of how he does in the NCAA, I believe he's on the right path to the Olympics. He is committed to doing well and preparing well for that.

"Each time I speak to him, he's saying that he's getting stronger, faster and better."

Alvin Chia

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 27, 2016, with the headline 'SCHOOLING BREAKS NCAA RECORD'. Print Edition | Subscribe