SINGAPORE - Over the past 21/2 weeks following the end of the Asian Games, Joseph Schooling's mind has been on "anything except swimming".
But the Olympic champion, who won two individual golds and two relay bronzes in Jakarta, was back by the pool on Tuesday (Sept 11) to talk swimming to 12 children at the Temasek Club.
The children were part of Care Singapore, a social service organisation supported by the Community Chest, and were participating in the "Champion for a Good Cause" swim clinic.
This inaugural partnership with Schooling is part of the Community Chest's 35th anniversary celebrations this year. Singapore Press Holdings is a key sponsor of the clinic.
Schooling spent about 30 minutes sharing his experiences and fielding questions from the children aged between 12 and 14.
The session saw the 23-year-old open up about the hard work and sacrifice needed to succeed in sport, as well as how sport can sometimes be cruel.
Schooling believes that informing young athletes of these challenges is important in ensuring they stay the course in their chosen sport.
He said: "It's important to let them know about the challenges that come if you pick this path. All we see on TV are the glamorous (parts), the good things, the racing, the guys doing so well.
"But what we don't see is all the hard work that allows athletes to perform at the highest stage, so it's important to tell these kids what's going to happen... if you prep them and tell (them) it's going to be a winding journey, I think the success rate will be higher towards the end."
He also noted the importance of having the right coach, adding: "Any coach can give you a hard set, but the hard part is getting to the athlete, sympathising with them, knowing when to push them and when to 'sayang' them a little bit.
"Not every coach is capable of that, that's why I'm very fortunate... every coach I've been with is phenomenal."
But the Singaporean remained tight-lipped on his plans as a professional. He turned pro in March following the end of his National Collegiate Athletic Association career, in which he represented the University of Texas, Austin.
When asked who would coach him and where he would be based, he would only say: "It's all being finalised now... I'm just trying to go back and finish my last semester and we'll see where it goes from there."
He will return to UT in Austin on Monday (Sept 17) to complete his final semester as an economics undergraduate but he will be back for the Singapore leg of the Fina Swimming World Cup from Nov 15-17.
On Tuesday night, he was joined by guest of honour Sam Tan, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Social and Family Development, in hosting a dinner reception for social service users, community partners and donors.
More than $258,000 was raised for three social service organisations supported by the Community Chest - the Autism Resource Centre (Singapore), Montfort Care and Care Singapore.