Why looking to the past may make sense for Schooling

There was no butterfly stroke in the time of Socrates, but the thoughtful Greek would have approved of what Joseph Schooling is doing. "We cannot live better," wrote the philosopher, "than in seeking to become better."

To re-find their equilibrium, athletes relocate countries, hire gurus who believe in long hugs or take an unusually lovely route. At the 2002 Australian Open, Marat Safin's coaching box was filled with rather winsome young ladies. "You have to admit," he said then, "that I have an unbelievably beautiful bench."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 09, 2020, with the headline 'Why looking to the past may make sense for Schooling'. Subscribe