Swimming: Joseph Schooling on the double as he sets 2nd NCAA record

Joseph Schooling, seen here winning one of his nine golds at last year's SEA Games, broke his second NCAA record in the 200-yard butterfly event to snag his second individual gold at the meet.
Joseph Schooling, seen here winning one of his nine golds at last year's SEA Games, broke his second NCAA record in the 200-yard butterfly event to snag his second individual gold at the meet. ST FILE PHOTO

Swim star first to break 1:38 mark in 200-yard fly as he wins second individual gold at NCAA c'ships

A day after admitting his dissatisfaction at not breaking the 44sec-barrier for the 100-yard butterfly race, Joseph Schooling made sure that his 200-yard fly race would be a more memorable one.

The 20-year-old swim star smashed the 1min 38sec barrier, clocking 1:37.97 as he clinched his second individual gold at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division One Men's Swimming Championships in Atlanta on Saturday.

While he also won the same two individual golds in last year's meet, this year's effort was far more impressive as he set two NCAA records in as many days, following his 44.01sec performance in the 100-yard fly event on Friday.

He is also the only athlete to have gone under 1:38 in this event, easily shattering the previous record of 1:39.33 set by Michigan's Dylan Bosch in 2014.

His University of Texas team-mate Jack Conger had led for more than three-quarters of the race, but was pipped by Schooling in the final 25 yards and had to settle for second with a time of 1:38.06.

WINNER'S MENTALITY

I hate being an underdog... I always want to get my hand on the wall first.

JOSEPH SCHOOLING, national swimmer, on his competitive psyche.

Andrew Seliskar from the University of Californa, Berkeley, was third in 1:39.95.

Both the Texas Longhorns swimmers' times were among the fastest ever recorded for the event. In comparison, Olympic great Michael Phelps could manage only 1:39.65 in 2010.

Splashing the water and holding his fists high in the air after finishing his race, Schooling's reaction was in stark contrast to his subdued response after his 100-yard fly swim.

"I hate being an underdog. Sometimes I read articles - this person's going to win, that person's going to win - and I get motivated and I'm ready to go," he said in an interview after his 100-yard fly victory on Friday.

"I always want to get my hand on the wall first."

At the end of the four-day meet, Schooling finished with five golds, a silver and a bronze.

Besides his two individual golds, he also clinched three relay golds, in the 200-yard and 800-yard free relay as well as the 400-yard medley relay.

His silver and bronze medals came in the 400-yard free relay and the 200-yard medley relay respectively.

With August's Rio Olympics firmly in his sights, Schooling credits last year's World Championships - where he won bronze in the 100m butterfly final and bagged Singapore's first-ever medal - as a major confidence booster.

He is one of two Singaporean swimmers - the other being Quah Zheng Wen - who have gained automatic qualification for the Rio races, and is slated to race in the 100m freestyle, as well as the 100m and 200m butterfly.

David Lim, Schooling's former coach, felt proud of his steady progress to becoming one of the top butterfly swimmers in the world today.

"To clock the best time in history in those two events says a lot about him," he said.

"The NCAA championships is one of the fastest meets in the world, so for him to do all that against his peers in such a competitive environment is a huge achievement."

In Rio, though, Schooling will face experienced veterans and perennial winners in his bid to win Singapore's first-ever Olympic swimming medal.

Nevertheless, Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) vice-president (swimming) Joscelin Yeo said that his record-breaking times proved that his training has paid off.

"He has matured by leaps and bounds since the last Olympics," she said. "In terms of his mindset, he does not live up to the expectations of anyone else but himself.

"His latest swim is very heartening and SSA will definitely show our whole-hearted support for him as he prepares for Rio."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 28, 2016, with the headline 'Schooling on the double'. Print Edition | Subscribe