Schooling adds to joy of 6

Schooling adds to joy of 6
Singapore's Joseph Schooling lapped up more adulation when he powered his way to his fourth gold of the meet in the 200m fly where he set a new Games and national record of 1min 55.73sec at the 28th Sea Games on 8 June 2015.

He is conquering all and sundry. Not just his peers but also those who have gone before him.

Last night, one of the biggest names to "fall" to the talent of Joseph Schooling was Singapore legend Ang Peng Siong.

The teenager blitzed the oldest swimming national record - Ang's 22.69sec, 50m freestyle mark set in August 1982 - at the OCBC Aquatic Centre on day three of the SEA Games.

Schooling clocked 22.47sec in the final en route to the gold.

But even as a nation, those on social media and others lucky enough to witness history in person, raved about Singapore sport's newest poster boy, Schooling was replaying what went wrong with his swim.

Just moments after his record-breaking feat, the butterfly specialist was deep in conversation with national coach Sergio Lopez, discussing how he could have gone faster.

It goes with the territory of being in a sport where a hundredth of a second separates winning from losing, euphoria from misery.

Asked if he had expected to break Ang's record, the 19-year-old said: "Definitely. I wasn't feeling that good before the race. I had a terrible dive but I'm happy to have gotten my hand on the wall (in record time)."

Lopez, too, believed that the writing was on the wall for the record. He said: "I thought he could go 22.1 or 22.2.

"He told me he dived too deep and it kind of put him off a bit.

"But he got a gold and a national record. As a coach, what more can you ask for?"

Ang, a guest commentator at the meet, said Eddie Reese, Schooling's coach at the University of Texas, had told him on Sunday that his mark would fall.

Ang, 52, said: "He had a really good swim in the 100m and 200m free on Sunday so he is one of the most deserving swimmers to break the record.

"Can he go faster? I did my world-best time when I was 19.

"He's 19 too. This is only the beginning."

Besides his freestyle feats, Schooling also bagged his fourth gold of the meet in the 200m fly, where he set a new Games and national record of 1min 55.73sec.

It is the seventh-fastest time in the world this year and an Olympic "A" time, which earns him an automatic berth (subject to approval from the Singapore National Olympic Council) for next year's Rio Games.

Schooling was not the only one rejoicing last night.

Quah Ting Wen, a five-time winner at the 2009 edition, also had a night to remember with two golds.

She clocked a Games record of 55.93sec to win the 100m free - her first individual title since 2009.

She then anchored the 4x200m freestyle relay team of Christie Chue, Rachel Tseng and Amanda Lim to beat Thailand. Second at the plunge, she caught up to help Singapore win in 8:12.95.

Thailand were second in 8:13.43 while Indonesia finished third in 8:30.97.

Said Ting Wen: "I was nervous before the 100m free but I let my nervous energy just take me out on the first 50m.

"I tried to hold on and I'm glad it worked. The home crowd helped because I know I'm swimming for something bigger than myself."

Singapore finished as the biggest winners on the night, claiming six of the seven golds on offer.

Ting Wen's brother, Zheng Wen, kept up his good form, adding a gold in the 200m backstroke with a Games and national record of 2:00.55. He also had a silver in the 200m fly as he clocked an Olympic "A" time of 1:56.79 behind team-mate Schooling.

The last gold came from sprint specialist Tao Li, who won the 50m back in a Games record of 28.9.

The hosts' best night so far came at the expense of Vietnamese sensation Nguyen Thi Anh Vien, who was third in the 50m back and second in the 100m free.

But, really, the night was about one man.

Four races, four meet and national records, and four golds later, Schooling is proving he is head and shoulders above his regional peers as he stays on course for perfection in his nine events.

Schooling, who turns 20 next Saturday, said: "I'm on track.

"After the 200m fly, everything gets a lot easier.

"I'm going to have some fun tomorrow."

This article was first published on June 9, 2015.
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