Swimming: Illness a factor in Joseph Schooling setback at NCAA Championships

Joseph Schooling won his fourth gold of the 28th Sea Games in the 200m fly where he set a new Games and national record of 1min 55.73sec in 2015.
Joseph Schooling won his fourth gold of the 28th Sea Games in the 200m fly where he set a new Games and national record of 1min 55.73sec in 2015.PHOTO: ST FILE

Disappointment for University of Texas star, while Quah makes a remarkable NCAA debut

A fever derailed Singapore swimmer Joseph Schooling's bid for his third straight 100- and 200-yard butterfly crowns at the NCAA Division I Men's Swimming and Diving Championships in Indiana.

The University of Texas (UT) junior was dethroned by former team-mate Caeleb Dressel in the 100-yd fly final yesterday morning (Singapore time), finishing second in 43.75sec.

Schooling, who holds the NCAA record of 1min 37.97sec in the 200-yd fly, then finished last in his heat last night (Singapore time), posting 1min 45.47sec.

The Sunday Times learnt that Schooling had a fever, although the 21-year-old refused to use it as an excuse for his performance.

His compatriot Quah Zheng Wen was in red-hot form last night. The 20-year-old NCAA debutant not only won his 200-yd butterfly heat in 1:40.44, but he was also the second-fastest qualifier for the final.

Schooling's team-mate Jack Conger was top with 1:39.88.

Quah, a University of California, Berkeley freshman, had also featured in the 100-yd fly final, where he clocked 45.06sec to place fifth.

The University of Florida's Dressel won the title in 43.58sec, breaking Schooling's NCAA record of 44.01sec.

Conger was third in 44.35sec.

Dressel, who won golds in the 4x100m freestyle and 4x100m medley relays at last year's Olympic Games, also clinched the 50-yd freestyle title on Friday.

Said Schooling after the 100-yd fly: "I did my best today. I was definitely looking to go under 44 (seconds), which I did, and finish one-two with Jack.

"There were a couple of things which I could have executed better, but well done to Caeleb for winning the event and breaking the NCAA record." 

Quah also raced in the 100-yd back on Friday night (Singapore time), winning his heat in 46.33sec, but did not advance to the final.

Singapore's National Training Centre head coach Gary Tan is "delighted" with Quah's performance at the March 22-25 NCAA Championships so far.

He said: "He was up against some of the best swimmers from across the globe and he's proved once again that he's got what it takes to be up there with the best.

"He's come a long way, and this is going to make him a better swimmer both physically and mentally."

There was consolation for Schooling after his 100-yd fly race yesterday, as he and team-mates John Shebat, Will Licon and Brett Ringgold won the 200-yd medley relay in 1min 21.54sec, an NCAA record.

"The 200-medley relay was phenomenal. We knew we wanted this record to go down and similar to yesterday's 400-medley relay, we went all out," said Schooling after the third day of the championships.

"Can't be happier for the boys and the team. We are 138.5 points ahead of second-placed California going into the final day, so I think we are doing pretty good."

The Texas Longhorns bagged two relay golds in the 200-yd freestyle and 400-yd medley on Thursday.

Singapore Swimming Association president Lee Kok Choy believes having the duo compete at such a high level "bodes well for the future of swimming here".

"The two boys inspired the nation during the Olympics in Rio, and have again established Singapore on the elite swimming map," he added. "We're delighted for Zheng Wen and how he's started his NCAA career. We wish him and Joseph the very best."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 26, 2017, with the headline 'Illness a factor in Schooling setback'. Print Edition | Subscribe