Schooling: And now for the world record
Schooling targets Phelps' 100m fly mark and more Olympic medals
There is a handmade sign on top of his apartment in Austin which carries the Singapore flag.
Below it are the words "Remember why you're here".
Flanking the flag are the timings 50.1 and 1:52, referring to his targets for the 100m and 200m butterfly events, respectively.
After becoming Singapore's first Olympic champion when he won the 100m butterfly final in a new Olympic record of 50.39 seconds on Saturday, Joseph Schooling will most likely prepare a new sign after he flies back to Texas on Friday morning.
In a press conference at the Black Box Auditorium @ Sports Hub Visitor Centre yesterday, the 21-year-old told local and international media that he is setting his sights on breaking Michael Phelps' 100m butterfly world record of 49.82, and is aiming to win more Olympic medals at Tokyo 2020.
"My dad told me 50.39 is a world record in a textile suit, but I want the world record on paper," said Schooling.
"Mine's the third-fastest time, that's great, but my next goal is breaking 49.8, I think that would be cool.
"The world record was in a supersuit (non-textile suit), so you never know. Michael swam a great race against (Milorad) Cavic in the 2009 World Championships in Rome then.
"The human body has evolved and people get better every year, swimming wise. Slowly, we are inching out of that supersuit era, which helped so much, so I think in a couple of years, it isn't crazy to say that it is doable.
"I think it is doable, 50.3 in a textile, no one has been that fast before and I am still young.
"Give me four or five more years and I would be in my prime. That's a long time, anything can happen."
Schooling's insatiable thirst for more breakthroughs in the pool means that he will compete at next year's South-east Asia Games in Malaysia, and he will want to fill the gaps in his trophy cabinet with gold medals from the World Championships (he has one bronze) and Commonwealth Games (one silver).
But there is no doubt what he really wants is more Olympic medals, which is why he will expand his programme heading into Tokyo 2020.
Schooling met the "A" qualifying mark in the 200m butterfly, which used to be his pet event, but dropped it at Rio 2016.
He also qualified and competed in the 100m freestyle, in which he set a new national mark of 48.27 in the heats and finished in the top 16.
Schooling said: "My next goal, my next step, besides breaking the world record for the 100m fly, would be getting my 200m fly back.
"I think I can medal (at the Olympics) in the 200m fly, I have a good shot. I've been training for the 200m fly, that's why I can finish the 100m fly pretty well.
"I think I have a good future in the 100m freestyle. It's the first time I'm swimming that at an Olympics, at the world stage, and I qualified sixth from the heats and finished in the top 16, so that wasn't too bad.
"I want to do 200m individual medley also, I think the 200m IM would be a good race, an all-round race for me, and 200m free maybe, why not?"
The history-maker is also optimistic about Singapore qualifying for an Olympic swimming relay event in four years' time, but surprised with his candour when he took responsibility for the the Republic's near-miss this year.
"I botched that fly leg on that medley at last year's world championships, it was stupid," said Schooling, who clocked a poor 52.79, far slower than the 50.96 he timed to win bronze in the 100m butterfly final.
"If I had clocked the time (50.96) in that relay, we would have made it.
"That was on me. At Worlds, I was just caught up on winning a bronze medal and the pressure is off.
"I should have approached that race differently. It was my fault.
"Having said that, I think we will most likely make a relay in 2020. We will be better down the line. (Quah) Zheng Wen is getting better, young guns coming up, I think we have a great shot."
After that epic Olympic 100m butterfly final in which he beat Chad le Clos, Laszlo Cseh and Phelps into a dead-heat tie for second place by 0.75 seconds - the biggest margin in the history of the event at the Olympics - Schooling is ready for life as the hunted instead of the hunter.
He said: "If I have to pick, I would rather be on top and kind of hold the fort down. It's a good spot to be in but it can get really tricky. I think it's easier to catch someone that's above you because you are working on getting this guy.
"The hard part right now is trying to stay on top. But, for me personally, I like to be on top.
"I like having people chase me, that's why I like to be the fastest qualifier out of the heats, the fastest out of the semis, and the fastest hopefully in the final, and win.
"That's why I try to send a statement from the heats, semis and final, to all those guys saying, 'Look, you have got to come and catch me, you have to come and take it from me'.
"I'd rather set the tone and everyone has to follow suit rather than the other way around."
This steely winner's mentality was also evident in the way he bristled at suggestion that he is now the front-runner to fill Phelps shoes now that the greatest Olympian has retired.
Schooling said: "Michael's shoes are huge shoes to fill. I don't know if one person can ever fill Michael's shoes.
"He's done so much, he's the most decorated Olympian of all time, the greatest Olympic athlete in history.
"So no, I don't think I want to fill Michael's shoes.
"I want to make a mark for myself. I want to set my own tone. I don't want to be compared to anyone.
"It feels great to be compared to someone like Michael but, in the long run, I want to make my own mark and my own name."
I don’t know if one person can ever fill Michael’s shoes... So no, I don’t think I want to fill Michael’s shoes. I want to make a mark for myself.
— Joseph Schooling, on being compared to Michael Phelps
Joseph will return for SEA battle
THE KING AND HIS BOUNTY: Joseph Schooling with the nine gold medals he won at last year’s SEA Games on home soil. PHOTO: ST FILE
"I'll be back", Arnold Schwarzenegger famously uttered in The Terminator in 1984.
Olympic champion Joseph Schooling, the "Terminator" of last year's South-east Asia Games on home ground, will be back for the biennial Games in Kuala Lumpur next year.
Last year, the University of Texas undergraduate won all nine races, including six individual events, all in Games record times.
He also set seven national records, including relays, in the process.
The Olympic men's 100m fly champion will compete in the Fina World Championships in Hungary from July 14 to 30 next year, and fly back to compete in the SEA Games from Aug 19 to 31.
"I was going to do the SEA Games anyway, but I like this line-up better," said Schooling during a session with local media at the Sports Hub Library yesterday.
"I could go to Worlds first and go on a second taper for SEA Games because Worlds would be way more challenging.
"Worlds is important to me and for my country, and the SEA Games are more important for Singaporeans, and the whole country, especially since it's in Malaysia.
"We've got to beat them."
The Singapore swim team topped the medal table at the Games last year with an unprecedented haul of 23 golds, 12 silvers and seven bronzes, which is a significant proportion of the Republic's overall haul of 84 golds, 73 silvers and 102 bronzes.
- LIM SAY HENG