Athletes gear their training towards ensuring they post the best timing at the right time, and Joseph Schooling has sent a message to his rivals that he is on track to achieving that balance.
In his last meet before this month's world championships in Hungary, the Olympic champion clocked this season's second- fastest 100m butterfly time - 50.96sec - as he won the final at the Speedo Southern Zone Long Course Sectional Championships in Texas on Saturday night (yesterday morning, Singapore time).
James Cooper was second in 52.13sec, followed by Bryce Bohman in 53.08sec.
Only American Caeleb Dressel has gone faster in the event. The 20-year-old swam 50.87sec at last month's US Summer National Championships.
The duo are the only swimmers with sub-51sec efforts in the event this year.
Schooling admitted that he had "wanted to clock the fastest time going into Budapest", but maintained that he is happy with his time.
NOT PLAYING SECOND FIDDLE
Caeleb has the fastest time this year but I am not going to let anyone take that No. 1 spot from me. I am looking forward to an interesting showdown in Budapest.
JOSEPH SCHOOLING, sending a message to his butterfly rivals at the World Championships.
He added: "Caeleb has the fastest time this year but I am not going to let anyone take that No. 1 spot from me. I am looking forward to an interesting showdown in Budapest."
At the July 14-30 world championships - the swimming competition starts on July 23 - the Singaporean is gunning for the 50m and 100m fly titles, as well as a world record in the longer event. Michael Phelps holds the 100m fly world record of 49.82sec.
There were plenty of positives to draw from yesterday's performance in his pet event, said the 22-year-old, who swam almost a second below the 51.82sec that he posted at the Texas Senior Circuit in June.
Schooling had gone below 51sec on three previous occasions: the last world championships in 2015 (50.96sec) where he bagged a bronze, and in the semi-finals (50.83sec) and final (50.39sec) of the Rio Games last year where he set an Olympic record en route to gold.
Evaluating his performance in the final, Schooling told swimming website SwimSwam there was "nothing too bad" about his technique, despite a "pretty poor" breakout off the wall.
"It felt kind of monotonous the whole way, (but) I think in three weeks I'll get that front-end speed a little better," he said in a video that was posted on the website.
"It's my fastest in-season time and that's a step in the right direction for me."
On Thursday, the University of Texas undergraduate won the 100m freestyle in 48.74sec, also a season's best for him.
Schooling will feature in the 50m, 100m and 200m fly and the 100m free events at the world meet.
He added: "All the preparations and hard work are done. I leave for Croatia in a couple of days for a training camp with the Singapore team and I will be ready come July 23."
In less than a fortnight, Schooling will expect it to be his time.