Swimming: Schooling satisfied with historic bronze, eager to compete with Phelps

Swimmer Joseph Schooling poses with his bronze medal after the men's 100m butterfly final at the Aquatics World Championships in Kazan, Russia, on Aug 8, 2015.
Swimmer Joseph Schooling poses with his bronze medal after the men's 100m butterfly final at the Aquatics World Championships in Kazan, Russia, on Aug 8, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

Joseph Schooling knows it will be something special to beat top butterfly swimmers such as Michael Phelps, Chad le Clos and Laszlo Cseh. However, he is satisfied with his bronze-medal achievement at the Fina World Championships in Kazan, Russia, before he heads back to the pool to train for next year's Rio Olympics.

The 20-year-old Singapore swim star clinched a historic bronze medal in the 100m butterfly final - the first-ever medal won by a Singaporean at the elite meet.

His time of 50.96 helped him finish third in Kazan, behind winner le Clos (50.56) and second-placed Cseh (50.87) and is the fourth fastest time of the year (behind Phelps' 50.45 set on Sunday at the US Championships).

"There have been more ups than downs," he said. "I got progressively faster over the meet. I've accomplished what I set out to accomplished.

"I don't have a magic crystal ball to tell me if I can beat Phelps, but I am very excited to be racing him again. To beat Phelps is not like beating someone else. You are up against the greatest swimmer of all time. You have to find that extra gear."

Already he has gone faster than he has ever managed in a major meet. He set personal bests in each of his three events - the 50m, 100m and 200m fly races. His final timings in the 50m and 100m fly are also Asian records.

In fact, his 100m fly timing in Kazan would have placed him first in the previous edition in Barcelona, where le Clos won in 51.06, and at the 2012 London Olympics, where Phelps won the gold in 51.21.

But Singapore national head coach Sergio Lopez is keen to restrain the hype surrounding his protege, saying: "Joseph is now one of the best in the world. He has improved 7/10th of a second in one year (he clocked 51.69 when he won the Commonwealth silver last July).

"If he improves another 7/10th of a second, he breaks the world record. So Michael Phelps better get ready to swim his best time.

"The important thing is that he trains hard. There's Phelps, Jack Conger, le Clos... that's a lot of swimmers. A lot of things can happen. But let's enjoy the bronze, and leave Joseph to work as hard as he can."