Joseph Schooling's rise from relative unknown to Asian Games gold medalist has been nothing short of spectacular. As a 14-year-old, he served notice of his potential by clocking a time in the 200m butterfly than was almost three seconds faster than the US age-group mark. But it was not until the former Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) student - who joined The Bolles School in the United States in 2009 - that he really blossomed into the swimmer he is today. The Straits Times takes a look at the rise and rise of 19-year-old Joseph Schooling.
Barely a year since moving to Florida, the 1.82m teenager is ranked the fastest in the US for his age in the 100 yards butterfly (short-course).
Schooling, now 16, is part of a school relay team which shatters the country's age-group (15-16) 4x100 yards medley relay record by almost six seconds - although the achievement was not counted because he is not a US citizen.
Swimmers from The Bolles School, a college preparatory institution in Florida's Jacksonville, include (from left) Teo D'Alessandro, Singaporean Joseph Schooling, Ryan Murphy and Ian Apple. --PHOTO: MAY SCHOOLING
Sets three new national records in 100m butterfly (54.19sec), 200m butterfly (2:00.05), and 200 individual medley (2:05.07) in June's National Swimming Championships
Joseph Schooling clocked 54.19sec for the men's 100m butterfly event at the National Swimming Championships on June 22, 2011, rewriting Bryan Tay's 54.46sec mark set in 2009. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Breaks the 50m (24.95sec) 100m (53.71sec) and 200m butterfly (1:57.95sec) national records again at the Asean School Games.
National swimmer Joseph Schooling (centre), the gold-medal winner of the 200m butterfly at the 2011 Asean Schools Games, pose with his medal along with fellow compatriot Quah Zheng Wen (left), who won the silver medal and Thai swimmer Navaphat Wongcharoen, who won the bronze. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
At the SEA Games 2011 in Palembang, Schooling is busy rewriting records again. He wins the 200m fly in 1:56.67 (a new Games and national record) and became the first Singapore swimmer to meet the "A" qualifying mark for the 2012 London Olympics.
He also wins the 50m fly in 24.06sec, also in a new Games and national record time. He finishes second in 200 individual medley but his time of 2:04.85 is another new national record. He comes in third in the 100m fly (new national record of 53.18sec).
National swimmer Joseph Schooling celebrating his win for the men's 200m butterfly event at the South-east Asian (SEA) Games in Indonesia on Nov 15, 2011. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
At the US Short-Course Junior National Championships, the Singaporean surpasses American superstar Michael Phelps' age-group (15-16 years) time over the 100 yards butterfly (short course).
Aged 16, he becomes youngest winner of the Sportsman of the Year award for his exploits in 2011.
He makes his Olympic debut with Singapore's contingent in London. But his swim cap and goggles were rejected before the 200m butterfly heat as they fail to meet Olympic regulations. Scrambling to find replacement equipment, he eventually clocks 1:59.18, and does not make the semis.
Schooling also fails to make the semi-final of the 100m fly in London, clocking 53.63sec, off his PB of 53.18,
Singapore swimmer Joseph Schooling reacts after competing in the men's 100m butterfly heats at the London 2012 Olympics. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
The teenager bounces back from his London disaster to set a US high school national record when he won the 100-yard butterfly at the Florida state high school championships. He also becomes the fastest Under-18 butterfly swimmer in the US after clinching the 100 and 200-yard titles at the Speedo Winter Junior National Championships.
The Singaporean beats American star Ryan Lochte to win the 100m butterfly (long course) final at the Speedo South Sectional Championships in Florida. Schooling touched home in 54.71sec while 11-time Olympic medallist Lochte had to settle for second (55.20) at the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex.
Schooling clocks 1:56.27 in the men's 200m butterfly semi-final at the Fina World Championships in Barcelona, re-writing his own national record of 1:56.67. However, he does not qualify for the final.
He also becomes the first Singapore swimmer to go below the two-minute barrier in the 200m individual medley, when he clocks 1:59.99 in Barcelona.
Schooling is granted deferment from National Service to allow him to prepare for the 2016 Rio Olympics. He also agrees to join the University of Texas at Austin. Its men's swim team is ranked second in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's top division, and is coached by Eddie Reese, the assistant coach of the US men's team at the London Olympics.
He emerges as Singapore's most bemedalled athlete at the 2013 SEA Games in Myanmar with five gold medals and one silver while setting four meet records on the way.
Singapore's Joseph Schooling with the gold medal from the men's 200m individual medley in the 27th South-east Asian (SEA) Games in Naypyidaw's Wunna Theikdi Swimming Complex, Myanmar on Dec 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Wins Singapore's first-ever Commonwealth Games swimming medal, finishing second to South African star Chad le Clos in 100m butterfly with a time of 51.69sec. The time is the eighth fastest in the world this year.
(Left to right) Silver medallist Singapore's Joseph Schooling, Gold medallist South Africa's Chad le Clos and Bronze medallist England's Adam Barrett pose on the podium during the Men's 100m Butterfly medal ceremony at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on July 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Schooling brings more joy to Singapore when he clinches a bronze in the 200m butterfly final with a time of 1:57.54. He then strikes gold in the 100m fly final with a Games record time of 51.76sec. That makes him the first male swimmer at the Asiad to win a swimming gold since Ang Peng Siong in 1982.
He also adds a 50m butterfly silver to his collection, after he touched home in 23.70sec to come in second in behind Chinese winner Shi Yang, who set a Games record of 23.46. It earns him a unique haul of three medals - one of every colour.
Singapore's Joseph Schooling wins Singapore's first gold in the 17th Asian Games Incheon 2014 Men's 100m butterfly event held at the Munhak Park Tae-Hwan Aquatics Center in Incheon, South Korea on Sep 24, 2014. - ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
FOUR FAST FACTS ABOUT SCHOOLING
1) His surname may not be your typical Singaporean surname but he is a born and bred Singaporean. Born to Colin and May Schooling, the former ACS (I) student counts Singapore food as the thing he misses most when in the United States. He loves milo "dinosaur" and carrot cake, the more black sauce the better.
2) He has good genes. His grand-uncle is Lloyd Valberg, who became Singapore's first Olympian when he competed in the high jump at the 1948 London Games.
3) He may be a swimmer, but he is also a big football fan and counts Chelsea as his favourite team.
4) Schooling swam against Michael Phelps at the 2012 Olympics. But they had actually met four years ago, when Phelps was training in Singapore before the 2008 Beijing Games.