Schooling sets 3 marks to meet at world c'ships to make history

Schooling sets 3 marks to meet at world c'ships to make history
Fans turning up in droves to meet Singapore’s SEA Games swimming sensation Joseph Schooling on 17 June 2015.
PHOTO: TNP

23.1; 51.4; 1:54.

These are simply figures to ordinary folk, they are just times to others, but for Joseph Schooling, they are magic numbers.

They are the times he has set for himself for the 50m butterfly, the 100m butterfly and the 200m butterfly, respectively, for the World Swimming Championships in Kazan, Russia, from July 24 to Aug 9.

And if he manages to hit his targets, he believes he can become the first Singapore swimmer to medal at the long course world championship, as all are within this year's top three marks.

"If I get into the top eight, anything can happen. I want a medal, but I'm not going to think about it that much," he told The New Paper, during a meet-and-greet with more than 500 fans at the Kallang Wave mall for the launch of the Fina World Junior Championships.

"My birthday wish keeps changing, but overall, I just want to keep being healthy and happy."

The Singapore swim sensation will begin his quest from Aug 2, and Schooling, who turned 20 on Tuesday, is aiming to break all three of his national butterfly records - 23.43sec for 50m, 51.69sec for the 100m, and 1min 55.73sec for the 200m - in Russia.

Continuing to create history will keep a smile on his face, but it will no longer come as a surprise because records have been tumbling like dominoes for Schooling.

Setting a new national mark in the 200m butterfly at the SEA Games, which ended on Tuesday, where he claimed nine gold medals - all in Games record times - has given him the confidence that his best is yet to come.

Although he also set new national records in all three freestyle events at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, Schooling will focus only on the butterfly events in Russia.

"There will be the heats, semi-finals and final, so if I make it through in all three events, that will be nine races for me," said the teenager, who will return to the University of Texas, where he is studying and training, tomorrow.

"I did 15 at the SEA Games with six individual heats and finals and three relays, 15 sounds bad but it wasn't, so I think I can do three events very well."

UPBEAT

Singapore swimming coach Sergio Lopez is in no doubt that Schooling will have another breakthrough performance at the World Championships.

The 46-year-old Spaniard, pretty popular as well going by the number of photo and autograph requests which he enthusiastically entertained yesterday, said: "Jo is going to do very well. The times he told you are achievable, and he can make the top three if he has a good day in the pool in Kazan."

Lopez will bring 11 swimmers to Russia, and he is optimistic about a good showing from the men's relay teams, who set new national records in the 4x100m freestyle (3:19.59), medley (3:38.25) and 4x200m freestyle (7:18.14) events at the SEA Games.

Noting that a top-12 finish would mean direct qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics, he said: "We will see how it goes because Clement (Lim) may choose to focus on studies, and (Quah) Zheng Wen is due for National Service next month, but our medley relay could be very good.

"For the other events, a place in the semi-finals would be great."


This article was first published on June 18, 2015.
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