SINGAPORE - Swimmer Joseph Schooling clocked 52.93 seconds to finish eighth in his heat at the Fina World Swimming Championships in Gwangju, South Korea on Friday (July 26).
He finished 24th and missed out on the semi-finals the same evening, with China's Li Zhuhao, Belarus' Yauhen Tsurkin and Australia's David Morgan (all on 52.44sec) the final qualifiers for the top 16.
American Caeleb Dressel topped the heats with 50.28sec in the ninth and final heat for the event, while Hungary's Kristof Milak - who broke Michael Phelps' world record en route to winning the 200m fly earlier in the meet - was second overall with 51.42sec. Milak, 19, won the heat Schooling competed in, ahead of 2016 joint-silver medallist Chad le Clos of South Africa (51.58sec), who was fourth overall.
"(It has been a) huge transition year for me and it's a reality check coming home. I've gone through a lot of things in the last four months that I've not experienced before," Schooling said after his swim.
"I'm obviously very disappointed with the time but I'm not going to dwell on this performance, maybe I would have two years ago but no, there are a lot of positives to look at. All I can do is to go back and fix the things I could have done and do better. I will come back a new swimmer."
The 24-year-old Singaporean won a joint-bronze at the 2017 edition with Briton James Guy, with a time of 50.83sec.
He clocked 54.63sec in his last competitive outing, the Singapore National Swimming Championships in June at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, but hadn't tapered for that meet. He won the same event at the Asian Games in Indonesia in 2018, in a Games record of 51.04sec.
Earlier at the world meet in South Korea, Schooling failed to make the last 16 of the 50m fly, when he clocked 23.73sec to finish 20th overall.
"I have got a lot of work to do going into next year. This is something I had to go through and it's better that this happened this year than next year," Schooling said on Friday.
"But the most important thing is I'm motivated and I want to do it. This has put fire in my belly and I need to just keep moving forward in my preparations for next year."