SINGAPORE - Olympic champion Joseph Schooling finished a disappointing fourth in his pet 100-yard butterfly at the 2018 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Swimming and Diving Championships on Saturday (March 24 Singapore time).
The highly-anticipated clash between the 22-year-old and University of Florida arch-rival Caeleb Dressel never materialised, as Schooling clocked 44.68 seconds in Minneapolis, almost two seconds behind Dressel's new NCAA record time of 42.80.
It was the latest in a series of eye-popping performances for the 21-year-old Dressel at the NCAAs - he improved on his previous record of 43.58 set last year by more than half a second.
Schooling's time, meanwhile, was some way off his personal best of 43.75, also set during last year's NCAA Championships when he finished second to Dressel.
The University of Texas senior did not make it onto the podium this time around, as Dressel's schoolmate Jan Switkowski (44.49) ensured a one-two finish for Florida by the narrowest of margins over Indiana's Vini Lanza (44.50).
There was no joy for Texas in the 200-yard medley relay either, as the defending champions finished fifth (1:23.21), fielding Schooling (23.69) in the breaststroke leg in the absence of a true specialist this year after former team-mate Will Licon's graduation.
The race was won by the University of Southern California quartet (1:21.82) of Robert Glinta, Carsten Vissering, Dylan Carter and Santo Condorelli, although Dressel stole the headlines for his freestyle split of 17.37 for Florida, even faster than his 17.63 when he won the 50-yard free on Friday and had set a new NCAA record.
After three days of action, Indiana holds the lead in the team rankings with 325 points. Texas, helped along by Schooling's team-mate Townley Haas' victory in the 200-yard free (NCAA record 1:29.50) are second on 306 points. The University of California at Berkeley is third on 291.5 points.
Texas have won three NCAA Championships in a row under head coach Eddie Reese.
The NCAAs wrap up on Sunday (Singapore time), with Schooling due to swim in two more events: the 200-yard fly where he come up against compatriot Quah Zheng Wen, and the 400-yard freestyle relay.