For years he has hauled himself out of bed - when most were still snuggled up warm - to make the trek for training.
When he plunged into the pool every day to begin his metronomic collection of swim miles, he knew he had his mum and dad firmly behind him.
He knew his coach believed in him.
Today, after perhaps the most emphatic message yet, Joseph Schooling knows he has the nation backing him.
Mindef's decision to allow Schooling to defer enlistment for national service and allow him to train full-time until after the 2016 Olympics is a huge shot for Singapore sport.
The message is clear. If a teenager has shown potential to become a world-beater, and if he has the courage to set bold targets and map out a programme to reach those milestones, then Mindef, and support structures in the country, will band together to give him a boost.
Singapore's butterfly behemoth is eyeing unprecedented targets.
He aims to battle for gold in the 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly events at next year's Asian Games in Incheon.
Two years later in Rio, he wants to become an Olympic champion.