SINGAPORE - Just 0.04 seconds separated the 16th and 17th fastest swimmers in the men's 100m butterfly heats at the Fina World Championships on Friday in Barcelona.
Unfortunately for Singapore's Joseph Schooling, he was on the wrong side of the divide.
His time of 52.56sec was just a whisker away from qualification from the heats.
Germany's Philip Heintz pipped him to the last semi-final spot with 52.52.
Schooling's time was also short of his personal best and national record of 52.33, achieved at the Arena Grand Prix in Charlotte in May.
On Friday, the 18-year-old Bolles School student swam alongside the likes of Russia's Evgeny Korotyshkin - joint silver medallist with Chad le Clos in the event at last year's London Olympics - and American superstar Ryan Lochte in Heat 4.
Korotyshkin won the heat in 51.55 while Schooling finished fifth, just 0.3sec behind Lochte in fourth.
The Russian was the top qualifier in the event for the semi-finals, with le Clos second with 51.88.
Schooling's debut at the biennial world meet came to an end with the event on Friday.
He has been the best performer among the eight Singaporeans at the Palau Sant Jordi so far.
Schooling qualified for the semi-finals in the 200m fly and 200m individual medley, claiming new national records in both events.
He was ranked 10th in the men's 200m butterfly, clocking the national mark of 1min 56.27sec in the semi-finals.
Among the women, butterfly specialist Tao Li qualified for her second semi-final of the world championships on Friday.
Tao Li in semis
The 23-year-old clocked 26.48 in the women's 50m fly to finish third in Heat 6 and 13th out of 60 swimmers.
Briton Francesca Halsall won the heat and topped the qualifiers with 25.69, while China's Lu Ying was the top Asian qualifier, coming in third with 25.82.
Tao Li's result in the semis was unavailable at press time, but she was ranked second on the continent with her effort in the heats.
She also made the last 16 for the 100m fly on Sunday and placed 14th with a 59.02 effort.
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