July 23-Aug 3
TIPPED to win Singapore's first-ever swimming medal at the Commonwealth Games, Joseph Schooling has swum his first strokes towards that goal.
The 19-year-old not only powered to second overall in the 50m butterfly heats but also set a new national record in the process with a time of 23.43sec, rewriting his old mark of 24.06 set in the 2011 SEA Games in Palembang.
The Singaporean, based in Florida in the United States, finished behind England's Benjamin Proud (23.17) but was ahead of South Africa's Olympic 100m and 200m butterfly champion Chad le Clos (23.65), who was placed third after the heats.
But Schooling has noted small mistakes in his technique and will iron them out to go even further ahead of last night's semi-final and this evening's final.
"Initially, I got it wrong for a couple of breaths and that slowed me down," he told The Straits Times after his record-breaking swim at Tollcross Swimming Centre, in the east end of Glasgow.
"But it was still a pretty strong swim and I definitely can go faster."
Despite facing a packed schedule at the Games (he will feature in the 50m freestyle, 50m butterfly, 100m fly, 200m free, 200m fly and the 200m individual medley as well as racing in the 4x100m freestyle relay, 4x200m freestyle relay and 4x100 medley relay), Schooling feels that fatigue is not a concern.
"That's why we train so hard," he intoned. "I am feeling good right now and certainly, tiredness is not an issue here."
Apart from Schooling's feat, it was a productive day for other Singaporean swimmers who qualified for their respective semi-finals. Tao Li finished overall 10th in the 100m butterfly heats (59.22) while Quah Ting Wen (1:01.90) went through in 15th spot. Quah Zheng Wen (100m backstroke, 56.37) and Samantha Yeo (50m breaststroke, 33.26) also made the cut.
The women's 4x100m freestyle relay team of Nur Marina Chan, Amanda Lim, Lynette Lim and Quah Ting Wen qualified for the final after clocking 3:51.20 in their heat.
The swim team was also greeted by President Tony Tan Keng Yam, who warmly shook Schooling's hand and said: "Very well done."
If there was a blip on what was otherwise a good day at the office for the swimmers, it came in a mix-up over the athletes' swimming caps, where the brand logos originally exceeded the Commonwealth Games Federation's regulated size.
But Speedo United Kingdom and Games organisers quickly stepped in and provided the team with approved caps.
Schooling explained that the team had brushed the incident off, saying: "The team thought that the officials handled the situation very well. They quickly found the replacement caps and the problem was solved.
"The swimmers are not affected at all thanks to their actions."
Team Singapore chef de mission Low Teo Ping added: "Swimming caps belonging to 10 of the 11 swimmers were found to be non-compliant with the advertising codes of the Games.
"The caps have since been replaced with similar ones and the swimmers are satisfied with the new caps. The difference between the old caps and new caps is that the new caps do not feature the Singapore flag."
Singapore Swimming Association secretary-general Oon Jin Teik called the incident "totally unacceptable" and has called for an inquiry.
But he added: "It is important not to rock the swimmers' confidence.
The officials there are also upset, but we need to work together as a team now to deliver.
"After the meet, we will come back, debrief, and see how we can do better.
These are part and parcel of growing up (as a swimmer), but these sort of things make them grow."
ROOM TO IMPROVE
Initially, I got it wrong for a couple of breaths and that slowed me down. But it was still a pretty strong swim and I definitely can go faster.
- Singapore swimmer Joseph Schooling on setting a new national 50m butterfly record during the heats at the Commonwealth Games
This article was first published on July 25, 2014.
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