For a person with an insatiable appetite for winning, even at the pool table, it was perhaps surprising to see Joseph Schooling meet the press with a smile after his outing at the Fina Swimming World Cup Singapore yesterday.
The 24-year-old missed out on a podium spot after finishing fourth in the 200m individual medley, his only event, in 2min 0.23sec at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
Mitch Larkin (1:57.43) won the race ahead of Danas Rapsys (1:59.14) and Thomas Fraser-Holmes (1:59.98).
"Wow, that hurt," Schooling said with a smile, adding that the timing was better than what he expected.
"Coming into this race I wanted to go 2:00 high or 2:01 low, so 2:00 low is 0.2 to 0.3sec off my best and that's a really good sign right now."
He holds the Singapore record of 1:59.99, set at the 2013 world championships in Barcelona, but last swam the event in 2015.
He was the top qualifier from the heats in 2:03.38.
"This morning hurt more; morning swims are always hard for us (and) it's hard to get up and go especially in heat one... I didn't necessarily know where I was this morning but, overall, two solid swims and a lot of good things to take away from that," added Schooling, who was coming off last month's World Championships, where he failed to even qualify for the semi-finals of the 50m and 100m butterfly.
"The 200m IM is always a painful race towards the end. Middle distance is where I need to be swimming. (As for) negatives, I wasn't too happy with my turns, my transitions were kind of soft so that's one more thing I've got to work on."
But he had a significant takeaway: "I'm more in shape than I thought I was."
Men's series leader Vladimir Morozov lowered two of his own World Cup records last night as he posted two wins. The 27-year-old Russian clocked 24.40sec in the 50m backstroke and 47.88sec in the 100m freestyle, an event he did not expect to do so well in.
"I was getting pretty tired at that point, I guess I gave it everything (as) it was my last race," he said.
"After the races I look at things I can do better and pick out one or two things and improve on those, and it's worked out so far."
Singapore clinched silver in the mixed 4x100m free. Darren Chua, Pang Sheng Jun, Cherlyn Yeoh and Quah Ting Wen clocked 3:31.53, behind Australia (3:26.45) and ahead of China (3:32.64).
5 questions with...Vladimir Morozov
The Russian, 27, is last year's Fina Swimming World Cup overall series champion. He is the current series leader.
Q What's the hardest workout you've ever done?
A One hundred 100s (a hundred repetitions of 100m swims).
Q What's your cheat day food?
A Two burgers.
Q Who's got the best tattoo that you've seen in swimming?
A Adam Peaty has a nice one. The lion. I respect that.
Q What's your greatest superstition?
A Not to cut your hair before big races.
Q Which swimmer inspires you?
A Alexander Popov (Russian multiple Olympic champion) because he got older, also got stabbed, had a big surgery and, after that, he was still able to win.