SINGAPORE - He was gunning for seven gold medals at the upcoming South-east Asia (SEA) Games, a feat that no male Singapore swimmer has achieved before.
But Joseph Schooling has decided to give up one of his seven events at the biennial Games in Myanmar this December.
The 18-year-old Bolles School (Florida) student was slated to compete in the 100m and 200m butterfly, 200m individual medley, 200m freestyle, as well as three relays in Naypyidaw.
But Schooling, who has chosen the University of Texas at Austin for his college education, has opted out of the freestyle event.
"The 200m free and the 200m fly are almost back to back and I wouldn't be able to give a solid swim in the fly if I compete in the free, and the fly is my focus," said the holder of the 200m national record and four other national marks.
The two events will take place on Dec 16 and will be sandwiched by the women's 50m free event, giving the butterfly specialist little time to rest between the races.
He is also scheduled to swim in the men's 4x100m medley relay after his fly race that day, with the women's 200m fly event in between the two, giving him some respite.
"Hopefully I'd be good enough to help the team get some good results by giving up my 200m free," said Schooling, who was granted deferment from full-time National Service on Monday to pursue his dream of winning a gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games.
No Singaporean male swimmer has won seven golds at a single SEA Games, although Tan Thuan Heng, Alex Chan and David Lim have each won six in one Games previously.
Patricia Chan and Junie Sng share the honour of winning the most number of golds - 10 - for Singapore in the pool at a single Games, while former swim queen Joscelin Yeo collected nine at the 1993 Games.
But Schooling, who competed at last year's London Olympics, is not too perturbed by the missed opportunity of making history.
He said: "To win six gold medals at the SEA Games is still an incredible feat and a big task.
"I won two gold medals at the last SEA Games (in 2011 in Indonesia) and if I win six this time, it's still a big step forward.
"And I will keep progressing from there."
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