Schooling not at his best, still wins two golds

Joseph Schooling won two golds at the Big 12 Swimming and Diving Championships in Austin on Friday (yesterday morning, Singapore time) even though he is "not in the best shape right now".

He won the 100-yard butterfly in 45.10sec, ahead of University of Texas (UT) team-mates Brett Ringgold (46.18) and Tate Jackson (46.24).

The Singaporean also topped the heats in 45.13 at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Centre.

He went on to clock 19.11sec in the anchor leg to help the Texas Longhorns win the men's 200-yard freestyle relay in 1min 16.90sec.

West Virginia University (1:18.30) and Texas Christian University (1:22.55) were second and third respectively.

Schooling could not be reached yesterday, but told the Texas Sports website: "I just wanted to get out there as quick as I could and race with my teammates. Hopefully I posted a good time.

"We're not in the best shape right now to race, but right now, the big thing is just giving your best."

Before the meet, long-time Longhorns coach Eddie Reese said in an interview that he pushed his team harder than he ever did.

He said: "At one point we were 0-4 in dual meets. That usually means you're doing too much and they're working it too hard. And we've probably had the worst dual meet record we've ever had. But we've never worked this hard."

Last year, Schooling had some good times at the Big 12s, despite admitting much later that he had taken his foot off the pedal slightly after the 2016 Rio Olympics.

He won the 50-yard free in a conference record of 18.76sec then, and won the 100-yard fly in 44.06sec, just off his own old conference record of 44.01sec.

This year, despite focusing on excelling in his last National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) meet next month, he has yet to make a huge splash at the Big 12s.

A day earlier, he relinquished his Big 12 50-yard free title, when he finished third in 19.36sec.

Schooling is pencilled in for the 200-yard fly on the last day of the four-day meet, which is the last major meet for the Longhorns before the NCAAs, this morning.

He won both the 100 and 200-yard fly NCAA titles in 2015 and 2016, but did not retain either crown in his junior year. The next NCAAs, which take place in Minneapolis, Minnesota from March 21-24, will be his final outing at the highly competitive college meet.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 25, 2018, with the headline 'Schooling not at his best, still wins two golds'. Print Edition | Subscribe