SINGAPORE - Olympic champion Joseph Schooling will not feature at the April 4-15 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.
The Straits Times understands that this is because the quadrennial Games take place shortly after the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) swimming championships. The NCAA swimming competition is a short-course meet (held in 25-yard pools) from March 21-24 in Minneapolis, while the Commonwealth Games swimming competition is a long-course (50m pools) format.
Swimmers usually require about three weeks to taper for a major meet (with most doing so only for two big meets a year) and ST understands that Schooling has chosen to focus on the NCAA as well as the Aug 18-Sept 2 Asian Games in Jakarta.
Schooling, who is on scholarship at the University of Texas, will be competing in his last NCAA competition this year before turning professional.
There, the UT senior will aim to regain the 100-yard butterfly crown from Caeleb Dressel of the University of Florida. The 21-year-old Dressel had also won seven golds at last year's Fina World Championships in Budapest.
In a statement sent by the Singapore Swimming Association on Friday (Jan 12), Schooling said: "This will allow me to concentrate fully on the Asian Games and ensure that I put in my best performances for Singapore in Jakarta."
At the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Schooling won silver in the 100m butterfly in a then national record of 51.69 seconds.
That same year at the Asian Games in Incheon, the 22-year-old Singaporean won the 100m butterfly in Asian Games record of 51.76sec.
He also clinched silver in the 50m butterfly and bronze in the 200m butterfly.
Besides Schooling, US-based siblings Quah Zheng Wen and Jing Wen will also skip the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
National head coach and performance director Stephan Widmer said in the same media release: "After consultation with the athletes and their coaches, the High Performance Committee, and the SSA's Selection Committee for the Commonwealth Games, I am supportive of the decision to not nominate the three swimmers for the Commonwealth Games.
"This decision will ultimately benefit Singapore, as we look to achieve our aims of challenging for medals in Jakarta, and closing the gap on the rest of Asia.
"To be competitive with the stronger Asian nations, we need these three high performers to be at their absolute peak. That's crucial for Singapore to be in Team relay medal contention at these games."
Zheng Wen, who is finishing his sophomore year at the University of California, said: "Continuing my training in the US and then going straight into Asian Games, will enable me to reach my peak during the Games, and I am looking forward to helping Singapore maximise our medal chances."
Texas A&M's Jing Wen, who is in her freshman year, added: "Having no disruptions to my training will allow me to have the continuity needed to achieve my optimal performance at the Asian Games."
Correction note: This story has been edited for clarity.