Singapore's finest athlete in 2014 will have a familiar face by his side as he goes for gold at the SEA Games in June.
Swimmer Joseph Schooling, who was named The Straits Times Athlete of the Year yesterday, can count on the support of renowned coach Eddie Reese - his mentor at the University of Texas - as he bids to make history on home soil.
The Straits Times has learnt that the former US Olympic coach will arrive on June 4, a day before the opening ceremony, and leave on June 12, a day after the swimming competition ends.
Besides guiding the teenager during his assault on up to 10 events at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, the 73-year-old is also set to conduct clinics for local coaches.
The Florida native comes with the blessing of Singapore head coach Sergio Lopez, who himself guided Schooling for five years at Bolles School in Florida.
"It is a huge privilege and honour to have such an experienced swimming mind in Singapore to help us," said the Spaniard, a bronze medallist at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
"Joseph has been under Eddie's wing for quite some time so it makes sense to keep them together during competition time.
"Eddie has been through many top competitions, his experience will be invaluable for Joseph."
In the past 38 years, Reese has led the Texas Longhorns to 36 consecutive conference titles.
He was the men's head coach in the US Olympic squad in 2004 and 2008, and an assistant coach at the 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2012 editions.
Schooling came under his tutelage last August and the veteran has analysed every aspect of his swim, right down to the angle of his legs at the turn and his arm-spread during the 35 strokes for the 100m fly.
He said: "If Joseph gets the small things right, backed by his strong fundamentals, he's going to do some amazing stuff in the next few years."
Schooling clocked 44.81 seconds - the third-fastest ever in college swimming history - to finish second in the men's 100-yard fly at the Big 12 Championships in Austin last week.
He hailed Reese's training and motivational methods, saying: "One of the things he said to me was that what matters more than being a good swimmer is being a good guy.
"It feels good knowing that he is picking you for your character and not just because he only wants to use you for your swims."
This article was first published on March 6, 2015.
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