Lining up on the starting blocks yesterday alongside seven of the world's best butterfly stroke sprinters, Joseph Schooling, despite having bulked up recently after weight training, was suddenly dwarfed in comparison.
The 1.84-metre-tall Singapore swimmer - the only Asian and the youngest in the final - found himself towered by competitors as tall as almost 2m.
But the 20-year-old, despite missing out on a medal in the men's 50m butterfly final yesterday at the Fina World Championships after finishing seventh, still posted a creditable performance.
He clocked 23.25sec to improve on the Asian record (23.27) he had set just the day before in the semi-finals.
France's Florent Manaudou, who stands at 1.99m, won the event in a time of 22.97, with Brazil's Nicholas Santos second in 23.09, while Hungarian Laszlo Cseh was third in 23.15.
Said Schooling, shortly after the race yesterday in the Kazan Arena in Russia: "In all, I am satisfied with my performance in this event.
"My target was to reach the finals and do a personal best. I've done that and at the same time set a new Asian record."
Added the University of Texas undergraduate, who is also competing in the 100m and 200m fly events: "I have two more individual events and my focus is now to concentrate and do well for those two events."
In making the last eight yesterday, Schooling became the first Singaporean man to feature in the final of the World Championships since Ang Peng Siong's fourth place finish at the 1986 Madrid edition.
Singapore have never won a medal at the world meet.
Meanwhile, Quah Zheng Wen posted a new national record in the men's 100m backstroke, clocking 54.40 to re-write his own national mark of 54.51 set at the SEA Games in June.
Despite the new personal best, he did not advance to the semi-finals after finishing 21st out of 67 swimmers.
World records also came tumbling on the second day of swimming events yesterday.
In the women's 100m butterfly, Sweden's Sarah Sjoestroem left her competitors in her wake when she clocked 55.64, shaving 0.1sec off the world record she had posted just a day earlier.
Dane Jeanette Ottesen was second in 57.05, while China's Lu Ying came in third in 57.48.
American Katie Ledecky, already a champion from the 400m freestyle event on Sunday, also swam an impressive race in the 1,500m freestyle preliminaries to clock a new world record.
Her timing of 15min 27.71sec improves on the 15:28.36 she set at the Pan Pacific Games in August last year.
The 18-year-old, who also holds the world 400m and 800m marks, admitted she was shocked after her performance.
"My coach told me to swim the first 900m easy, build over the next 300, then the final 300 was my choice and, to be honest, it felt pretty easy," Ledecky told Agence France-Presse yesterday.
This is the eighth time the teenager, who only recently completed high school in Maryland, has set a world record in her career.
Singapore's Rachel Tseng swam in the same event, finishing in 17:26.53 for 23rd place (out of 25) and also did not make it to the final today.
Danny Yeo clocked 1:51.29 in the men's 200m freestyle event to finish 49th out of 79 swimmers, and did not advance to the semi-finals.
This article was first published on August 4, 2015.
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