Joseph Schooling aims for seven golds

Joseph Schooling aims for seven golds

He is August's The Straits Times Star of the Month for setting two national records at the world championships in Barcelona last month. But if swimmer Joseph Schooling had his way, the best month of his year is yet to come.

Indeed, the 18-year-old has his eyes set on December, when the biennial SEA Games descend on Myanmar. There, he is targeting a seven-gold performance - to equal compatriot Tao Li's feat at the previous Games in 2011 in Palembang, Indonesia.

He said: "December will be my most impressive month. My goal will be to win all my races and to break as many records as I can. It's definitely possible."

Joseph, who won two golds (50m and 200m butterfly) at Palembang, is entered for four individual events - 100m and 200m fly, 200m freestyle, 200m individual medley - and could compete in the three relays (4x100m free, 4x100m medley, 4x200m free).

He has every reason to be optimistic in Myanmar as his four individual events - which are also the national records - are faster than the winning times at the Palembang Games. His timings at the world championships of 1min 59.99secs (200m IM) and 1:56.27 (200m fly) trump the SEA Games gold-winning marks of 2:02.90 and 1:56.67 respectively.

His 100m fly's personal best of 52.33sec also eclipses Vietnam gold-medallist Hoang Quy Phuoc's 53.07, while his 1:49.47 in the 200m free beats compatriot Danny Yeo's 1:51.07 winning time.

Many observers in the local swimming community are expecting the United States-based schoolboy to shine at the SEA Games. Said national head coach Ian Turner: "The boy is talented, no doubt. (Seven golds) is achievable. Singapore can expect some outstanding swims." But first there is the matter of deciding on his college, as Joseph will graduate from high school next year.

This month, the Year-12 student at The Bolles Institution has scheduled college visitation trips to the universities of Florida, Texas, California (Berkeley), and Michigan.

A big factor will be placed on the availability of a good coach and strong swimming team. Said Joseph: "I'm looking for a coach who is excited to motivate me and I will motivate him as well by training hard and swimming fast."

ugenec@sph.com.sg


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