Lim: Schooling right to pick 100m free over 200m fly
Joseph Schooling, Singapore's best hope for a first-ever Olympic medal in swimming, has decided to drop the 200 metres butterfly to concentrate on the 100m butterfly and 100m freestyle at the Rio Olympics starting on Saturday morning (Singapore time).
While his decision may come as a surprise to many, given that the freestyle is not his pet stroke, veteran local swimming coach David Lim believes the 21-year-old can excel in the 100m free.
"It is possible for him to get into the final of the 100m free, even though he will be facing freestyle specialists," the 49-year-old, who competed in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics, told The New Paper yesterday.
"The top 16 swimmers in this event will be very close, and he's no slouch, given that his coach Eddie (Reese, of the University of Texas) also chose him for the freestyle relays for the NCAAs this year."
The Singaporean met 'A' timings for four events - the 100m and 200m free as well as the 100m and 200m fly, and had registered for all except the 200m free.
Last month, Schooling (left) told TNP he was still deciding between the 100m free and 200m fly to start his Rio campaign, but was leaning towards the 100m free.
Yesterday, the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) announced that he had chosen to swim in the 100m free and 100m fly.
"After a lot of thinking by Joseph and discussions between Eddie Reese and I, we have come to the decision to drop the men's 200m butterfly event," the SNOC quoted national swim coach Sergio Lopez as saying.
"Joseph will be swimming in the 100m freestyle event instead, where we believe he has a very good chance to be in the final."
Schooling, who made his Olympic debut in London four years ago after making the 'A' timing in the 200m fly, will start his campaign with the 100m free heats just after midnight on Aug 10 (Singapore time), with potentially the semi-finals on the same day. The final is scheduled for the next day.
He will then take the plunge again on Aug 12 for the heats of the 100m fly, widely regarded as his best shot at that historic Olympic swimming medal, with the semi-finals taking place on the same day, and the final set for the morning of Aug 13.
Meanwhile, Quah Zheng Wen will compete in the men's 100m back, and the 100m and 200m fly.
His sister, Ting Wen, will race in the 100m fly.
Acting national coach Gary Tan told TNP that Lopez, Reese and Schooling would have carefully considered the swimmer's event line-up as it would impact his strategising of races.
The 34-year-old former Olympian has not spoken to the trio, but said: "They would have talked it through thoroughly, about how to bring out the best potential (in Joseph) and how he can race with peace of mind.
"I think it is a wise decision."