Joseph Schooling eyes medal haul at World Championships

Joseph Schooling at a media session yesterday. The swimmer said he is aware that he will face stiff competition from Japan's Masato Sakai and Chad le Clos of South Africa at the Budapest meet.
Joseph Schooling at a media session yesterday. The swimmer said he is aware that he will face stiff competition from Japan's Masato Sakai and Chad le Clos of South Africa at the Budapest meet.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

With four events at the Fina meet in Hungary, he aims to get more than one podium place

Joseph Schooling is confident of winning a medal in more than one event at the July 14-30 Fina World Championships.

The Olympic 100m butterfly champion has qualified for four races at the biennial event - the 50m, 100m and 200m fly, as well as the 100m freestyle.

The United States-based Schooling, 21, is back in the Republic to accompany mixed martial arts fighter Angela Lee to the One Championship cage at the One: Dynasty of Heroes event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium this evening.

Speaking to media yesterday, Schooling said: "I think I definitely have a shot at winning more than one medal, that's definitely my goal and we'll see what I can do.

"I've been getting back in the pool, lifting weights again, getting my strength back to where it needs to be. I've put in a couple weeks of pretty decent work and I've still got four to five weeks before coming down for taper... I think I'm in a good spot, I'm ready."

Schooling last competed at the May 4-7 Arena Pro Swim Series in Atlanta, where he clocked 1min 56.45sec in the 200m fly to finish second and qualify for the world championships.

FINDING THE RIGHT FOCUS

I've put in a couple weeks of pretty decent work and I've still got four to five weeks before coming down for taper... I think I'm in a good spot, I'm ready.

JOSEPH SCHOOLING, on his preparation for the world championships in July.

"That was my fastest time this season, and I haven't been doing that much (training for it) which is very encouraging," he added.

"So hopefully this is the year for my 200. I'm pumped up for my 100 fly too, my strength's pretty good and I'm moving my weight well."

The University of Texas, Austin undergraduate last went faster in the 200m fly at the 2015 World Championships (1:56:11). His personal best is 1:55:73, which he clocked at the 2015 SEA Games.

But the bar is set high as the winning time at the last World Championships was 1:53.48, while the bronze-medal time was 1:54.10.

He also wants to break Michael Phelps' 100m fly world record of 49.82sec, set in 2009 during the era of the super suits, which reduced drag underwater.

He believes his chances of doing so "could go either way right now", but added: "I'm looking forward to that race and deep down, I think if I do what I know I can do and execute everything perfectly, I have a really good shot.

"49.8 is a serious time... it'd be an amazing feat. It's something I really want and with that extra motivation, anything can happen."

Following a forgettable outing at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Men's Swimming and Diving Championships in March, where he failed to retain either of his 100- and 200-yard titles, Schooling is also ready to enter the pool with renewed focus and preparation at the World Championships.

And he is aware that he will face stiff competition from swimmers like Japan's Masato Sakai and South Africa's Chad le Clos, but said: "I put myself in a good spot the last couple of weeks, I just have to be there mentally and I'll be fine."

Acknowledging that he will arrive in Budapest with a target on his back and that he will face the pressure of living up to his historic achievement in Rio, Schooling added: "Now that I've experienced what losing really feels like after a long time, I don't want feel like that ever again.

"I'm done feeling that way, and that's good, I need to feel this way, I haven't felt this way in a while, since Rio."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2017, with the headline 'Schooling eyes medal haul at World C'ships'. Print Edition | Subscribe