What Joseph Schooling Did on His Summer Vacation

“What I Did on My Summer Vacation”

By Joseph Schooling (written by Charles Hartley).

This summer I went to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. It’s a big country in South America. Lots of beaches and volleyball.

There is where the Summer Olympics took place. Being a swimmer for my home country, Singapore, I qualified for the 100 meter butterfly event.

There were phenomenal swimmers in that race. They included Michael Phelps, the greatest swimmer who has ever lived and my boyhood idol; and Chad le Clos, who beat Michael in the 200 meter butterfly in the 2012 London Olympics. That was a stunner. Michael doesn’t usually lose that race.

Le Clos made a big deal about that upset. He splashed around in the pool as if to say “hey everybody, look at me. I beat Michael Phelps in his signature event.” It seems that ever since then he’s been splashing around in the pool calling attention to himself that he beat Michael.

During the first week of the Brazil Games Chad shadowboxed in front of Phelps in the waiting room before the semi-final race of the 200 meter butterfly. It is believed to be the first time a swimmer has shadowboxed another swimmer on worldwide TV in the waiting room.

This became an international TV and YouTube virus that went sick. The whole world saw how le Clos played mind games with Michael. Michael got a really angry look on his face. It looked like the two might start fighting right there. If they had, I wonder if it would have made them swim slower. Fighting takes energy.

Le Clos shouldn’t have shadowboxed. His pre-race antics proved to be fruitless. Michael smoked him in the Gold Medal race. People said he made himself look foolish.

The First Rule of Swimming is “Don’t taunt a guy before a race and then lose to him.” The Second Rule of Swimming is: “Don’t taunt the greatest swimmer of all time ever anywhere.” You can scroll through the other 983 rules on Swimswam.com. 

Another big shot swimmer in the 100 meter butterfly final was Laszlo Cseh. If a Westerner, you may not have heard of him. But he’s one of the greatest swimmers of our time. Throughout his career Phelps has overshadowed Las. If not for Phelps, Cseh would probably have about four or five more Olympic Gold Medals and might even be a household name in kitchens of swimming families around America.

Anyway, Michael, Chad and Laszlo were in my heat and were the ones to beat.

You could not put together a butterfly race with more butterfly stars in it except, maybe, if the heat also featured Ian Crocker and/or Mark Spitz. But those two guys competed in the Olympics many years ago. This essay is about this summer. Let’s stick to the assignment.

Michael is known by everybody in the swimming world and beyond. He’s on TV commercials. Chad is known by Michael and lots of swimming people. And Laszlo is known by lots of swimming people especially those in Europe because he’s from Hungary.

Then there was me, Joseph Schooling. Not many people knew me before the race and maybe still don’t. There were four other guys in that final heat. But they are not central characters in this essay so let’s leave them out of this.

So the race for Gold was supposed to be between Michael, Chad and Laszlo. Rowdy Gaines, a swimming luminary, thought so.

Turns out the three favorites did race each other very closely. But I swam a different race way out in front of them. The Gold was mine. They were in a panic to try to get Silver. This wasn’t my concern. Panic was not me. The three of them tied for the Silver but that’s a footnote for swimming historians to annotate.

Standing on the top pedestal as they played Singapore’s national anthem, I felt proud and a little distracted because three guys were standing on the Silver Medal stand.

In my mind as I stood on the pedestal, I shadowboxed Michael and Chad and Laszo. Right then I envisioned this day back here at the University of Texas when I would read this essay to my class.

Not to blow my Texas Longhorn, but what I did on my summer vacation was swim a faster 100 meter butterfly than any man alive on that day, on the world’s biggest swimming stage.

The end.

This is written by Charles Hartley as an opinion piece. 

Charles Hartley, a free-lance writer based in New Jersey, has written more than a thousand published sports articles. He earned Master’s degrees in Business Administration and Journalism. In addition, he was awarded his Bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University where he majored in English and Communications.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
5 years ago

I know this is just fun, but Chad is made out to be a right plonker on swimswam all the time, and let’s be fair he’s one of the greatest swimmers the world has ever seen.
100free 48.1
200free 1.45.2
100fly 50.5
200fly 1.52.9
200im 1.57
400im 4.12
Made an Olympic final in 5 events (withdrew from 200im) and medalled in 3 Events.
If he was American he would of been on all relays so there’s 3 golds and IM relay in London.
So he would of won 5 gold 3 silver, and countless relays medals at worlds.
Soon to be the greatest short course swimmer ever imo… Read more »

Reply to  Skoorbnagol
5 years ago

I agree with you plus now he has so much opening speed it’s silly. His 50m in the world cup recently was a 21.1!! He’s probably swimming it in moscow and I’m excited to see what he can go.

Reply to  Skoorbnagol
5 years ago

One can be a right plonker and a good, even great swimmer or athlete.

Irish Ringer
Reply to  Skoorbnagol
5 years ago

I’ve warmed up to LeClos as well. Didn’t like the cockiness towards the GOAT, but I think that was all for show.

5 years ago

It should also be included that Schooling swam faster than Phelps, or anyone for that matter, has ever gone in a textile suit (50.39 to Phelps’ 50.45) and that’s something to brag about.

Reply to  Person
5 years ago

Yep. But bragging is for losers.

Reply to  SwimmerFoxJet
5 years ago

It ain’t trickin if you got it

5 years ago

Fastest 100 fly ever? Or on that day? Slightly confused.

Anyway, I wonder which is the true World Record:

49.82 Phelps LZR bodysuit. This suit is not near to the supersuits of the 2009 era, but still pretty enhancing.

50.39 Schooling Textile jammers at freaking 21 years old.

Upvote for the GOAT

Downvote for the 1st Singapore gold medalist EVER.

Reply to  SwimmerFoxJet
5 years ago

Id say they are about equal. Especially since phels did 50.6 the next year. So if you put phelps in a jammer in 09 and he had as good a race as he did in the final against cavic…i think he’d be 50.3 or 50.4

Reply to  Q-tip
5 years ago

If the 100 fly was on the first day and second day of swimming… I think 50.2 but sub 50 is probably not possible for a 31 year old in textile jammer. With 3 races no.

5 years ago

“Not to blow my Texas Longhorn” God I love you Charles

Naya Missy
5 years ago

This honestly sounds like an essay an 8 year old wrote… it’s funny but not funny at the same time.

5 years ago

“There is where”…….I thought that you were an English major.

Charles Hartley
Reply to  Billabong
5 years ago

Rhyme trumps grammar.

Yabo Squandrant
Reply to  Charles Hartley
5 years ago


Reply to  Charles Hartley
5 years ago

Fun article, Charles!

5 years ago

Yes Schooling won, but Michael had swum 4 (?) races before this final race in Rio. He must have been tired. Schooling had done nothing before this race. He must have got a lot of rest. It is not fair to say that he beat Michael Phelps. He has won only one event. And look at how many medals Michael Phelps has got.

Reply to  Hana
5 years ago

Yes, Phelps was tired, but that doesn’t negate the fact that Schooling beat him. Not saying Schooling is a better swimmer than Phelps, obviously, but on that day Schooling swam a (much) faster 100 meter butterfly than Phelps did. And also he went .06 faster than Phelps’ textile best.

Reply to  Person
5 years ago

.06 seconds faster than a 30 year old.

Reply to  SwimmerFoxjet
5 years ago

No. 0.06 faster then Phelps has ever gone at any age.

5 years ago

Here is my make believe version of what Joseph was thinking during 100 fly finals:

“I like that Eddie is here to watch me, but I kind of wish he was not here so that I could breathe every stroke and look back at Le (not so) Clos(e) on every stroke. But, again, he is so behind that I might twist my neck badly. Oh, well, I will just go win this. Yee Haw!!!”

Yabo Squandrant
Reply to  PsychoDad
5 years ago