Swimming: Thumbs up for Schooling

Swimming: Thumbs up for Schooling
National swimmer Joseph Schooling after he swam in the semi-finals of the 50m butterfly event held at the Tollcross Swimming Centre

If all goes well, Joseph Schooling is on track to be among the world's best swimmers at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

That's the assessment of three-time United States Olympic champion Nathan Adrian, who is in town for the Prudential Singapore Swim Stars starting on Friday.

Schooling, 19, clinched Singapore's first swimming medal at the Commonwealth Games when he delivered a silver in the men's 100 metres butterfly in Glasgow, Scotland, last month.

When The New Paper mentioned the US-based teenager's name in an interview at Marina Bay Sands yesterday, Adrian's eyes lit up instantly.

The 25-year-old American revealed that the Singapore swimmer is so highly rated in the US that the University of Berkeley, California - the college Adrian swims for - tried to woo him to join them last year.

Schooling chose to join the University of Texas instead, where he will train under Eddie Reese, Team USA's swim coach at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"Oh yeah, I know Joe," Adrian said of Schooling. "We wanted him to come to Cal (California), I can tell you that.

"At Berkeley, we've had a very successful couple of years (in US collegiate swimming), but so have Texas.

"Between the two schools, we've finished first and second at the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) level for a while now.

"Joe chose a school where he'll be able to perform and utilise his potential, and that's important.

ON TRACK

"He's on track to be a medal contender in the 100m and 200m butterfly at the Olympics, absolutely."

Adrian certainly knows what's needed to become an Olympic gold medallist.

He won the men's 100m freestyle at the 2012 London Games with a time of 47.52 seconds.

His two other gold medals were won as part of Team USA's 4x100m relay swim teams in London (medley) and Beijing (freestyle), both times alongside swim superstar Michael Phelps.

Adrian said that Schooling's progress over the years has turned him from promising school swimmer to an established senior head.

"I don't think of him as a high school kid, I think of him as an international competitor," said the American.

"Moreover, at the moment, there's no one on the men's side in Team USA who is at his level, at his age.

"So that's pretty impressive, and it speaks for itself really."

Schooling clocked a personal best of 51.69 as he clinched silver in Glasgow.

The timing was a fraction off the 51.44 that secured the joint-silver in the men's 100m butterfly at the London Olympics, won by Phelps in a time of 51.21.

In Scotland, Schooling also set a new best in the 50m butterfly (22.43).

His father, Colin, said that there is more to come from the youngster, and tipped him to hit top form at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, later this month.

Schooling proved that he was ready to take his swimming to the next level when he bagged a haul of five gold medals and one silver at last December's South-east Asia Games in Naypyidaw, Myanmar.

He then made history in Glasgow.

Don't bet against him making his mark again in Incheon.

And, if Adrian is to be believed, perhaps even in Rio.

msazali@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Sep 3, 2014.
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