Looking beyond the SEA Games

Looking beyond the SEA Games
MOVING FORWARD: Joseph Schooling’s coach Eddie Reese gives a seminar to local coaches, along with national swim coach Sergio Lopez.

The spotlight will be on Asian Games champion Joseph Schooling at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games swimming competition.

But, while the competition starts today, the 19-year-old will open his campaign at the OCBC Aquatic Centre tomorrow in the 100 metres freestyle.

And swimming fans here may be treated to a preview of what Schooling can do at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, next month, as well as the Rio Olympics next year.

While the butterfly events are the forte of the University of Texas at Austin undergraduate, his college coach Eddie Reese believes he is good enough to win a medal at the Asian Games level in other events as well.

"If he were to pick a meet a year after the Olympics (next year), like the Asian Games, leave the fly events alone and compete in the freestyle and individual medley events, he will surprise people in the 100 and 200 free, as well as the 200 IM," said the 73-year-old at the Pan Pacific Singapore yesterday.

He was speaking to local media at the sidelines of the Singapore Swimming Association's inaugural quarterly "Swim with Us by Sergio Lopez" coaching clinics.


"For the Olympics, it's not about how many events he can swim - he can make the Olympic standard in every event - but I'd just focus on the butterfly ones.

"Let's get (him) on the podium for the Olympics," added the veteran coach, who also raised the possibility of his protege competing in the 200 IM in Rio if the event does not clash with his fly events.

While Schooling is aiming to make Olympic "A" qualifying timings at the SEA Games, a good gauge of his Olympic medal hopes will be at the Kazan world championships, where the tall and muscular Singaporean may compete in four events.

Reese said: "After this meet (SEA Games) we're going to talk about his line-up for the world championships... I think getting the medals is the most important thing."

Schooling will face a relatively uncomplicated training schedule leading up to next year's Olympics next year, compared to his American teammates who are aspiring for Rio.

While his teammates, such as Jack Conger and Clark Smith, could be busy with Olympic trials in the middle of next year, Schooling does not have to go through that.

Both swimmer and coach have already discussed a preliminary academic and swimming schedule for next year, which also includes two meets in the US.

While some coaches will pit top swimmers - like Schooling and Conger - against each other in training in the hope that they push each other to improve, Reese lets them race each other only about once a week.

Reese said: "(If I do that) there will be a pecking order - one is at the top and one's not. I'd rather have them both thinking that they are at the top.

"In an Olympic year, I want them both to be fighting for the gold."

If it comes down to Schooling and Conger for the gold medal at the Olympics, don't expect Reese to publicly root for one of his Texas swimmers over the other, though.

"I'll be in tears, let's leave it at that," he said, to the laughter of those around him.

"These two guys work hard, are hard to beat and hate to lose. When you get two guys like that, there's no telling what will happen."

This article was first published on June 06, 2015.
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