Schooling focuses on golds, rather than records
He's tiring, but Schooling's still in the mood to win
He's been given many nicknames, almost all of them reflecting his prowess in the pool.
While Asian Games champion Joseph Schooling has set record-breaking times en route to winning four golds in as many events over the past two days at the SEA Games, he proved yesterday that he is human, after all.
The 19-year-old University of Texas undergraduate won the men's 100m butterfly and was part of the 4x100m men's freestyle relay winning team last night at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, but the bright and cheery grin that greeted the crowd earlier in the week had given way to a weary smile, almost in disappointment.
Part of the disappointment came from the fact that he had wanted to post world-class times in his two best events - the 100m and 200m butterfly.
His 52.13sec effort in the 100 fly was good enough to break his Games record of 52.67 set in 2013, but it failed to rewrite his national record of 51.69, set at the Commonwealth Games last year.
While he bettered the 2016 Rio Olympics 'A' qualifying mark of 52.36, his time ranked him 20th in the world this year.
Said Schooling: "I am tired, I had six events in three days, racing at a high level with a lot of stress, so 52.13 is not that bad.
"It's all about the gold medals now, my times are really irrelevant right now, they will be more important at the world championships (July 24 to Aug 9) but, right now, I have the luxury of not performing at my best and being fortunate enough to pull off the gold medals."
In the final event of the night, Schooling led off the Singapore relay quartet with a stunning opening 100m, setting the stage for a Games record-breaking time of 3min 19.59sec.
National swim coach Sergio Lopez, who used to nurture Schooling at the Bolles School in the United States, said that the fact that the swimmer did not fully taper for the SEA Games contributed to the fatigue.
Said Lopez: "At the end of the day, the most important thing for him is to win the golds.
"If you looked at the guys from the other relay teams, they were still a second slower than Joseph, so I think he's fine."
Schooling has won all six events he's competed in so far, and will be in action tonight in the men's 50m butterfly and the 200m individual medley, before ending his SEA Games campaign with the men's 4x100m medley relay tomorrow.
The 2012 Sportsman of the Year said: "I am still going to do those events. I will have a good night's sleep today and do the 50m fly and the 200m IM tomorrow, so I am going to try to get tomorrow over and done with, and hopefully win those two events.
"And once I hit my last event, a relay, then everything's done."
Another relay, another win
It was a race the nation's swimming teams have won five consecutive times, since the 2005 South-east Asia (SEA) Games in the Philippines.
Last night, the quartet of Joseph Schooling, Clement Lim, Danny Yeo and Quah Zheng Wen kept Singapore's winning streak going in the men's 4x100m freestyle relay at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, clocking a Games and national record time of 3min 19.59sec.
The old Games mark of 3:21.74 was set in 2013, while the same quartet clocked the old national record of 3:20.98 at the Commonwealth Games last year.
The gold was also the Republic's 15th in the sport at this Games.
It was ultimately a race against the clock for Schooling and Co., with Malaysia about six seconds behind in second (3:25.55) and Thailand claiming bronze in 3:25.92.
Quah, 18, who claimed his second gold of the night after victory earlier in the 400m individual medley, said: "The home crowd really gave us the encouragement we needed; the cheering and support was crazy and it fired us up.
"We swam our hearts out for Singapore."
National coach Sergio Lopez was delighted that the quartet had broken the 3min 20sec barrier.
The American said: "We had three guys doing 49-second swims and it was a great step moving forward. I think Danny swam really well given that he has been sick the last few days and still recovering.
"He should do better tomorrow."
- LIM SAY HENG