Speaking to Channel News Asia at the One: Dynasty of Heroes championship fight event this week in which the Singaporean swimming star accompanied MMA champ Angela Lee, Schooling had no qualms about revealing his goal for the 2017 FINA World Championships. The 21-year-old Olympic gold medalist who was welcomed home as a hero last summer after winning his nation’s first swimming gold medal says his target is taking the 100m butterfly world record from now-retired American Michael Phelps.
“I’m looking forward to that race and deep down I think if I do what I know I can do, if I execute everything well perfectly, I’d have a really good shot,” Schooling told CNA.
Phelps’ record stands at an incredible 49.82 from the 2009 World Championships, produced in a Speedo LZR Racer suit in an era of the polyurethane super suits. Knowing he’d have to become just the 3rd swimmer in history to delve into sub-50 second territory to get the world record-setting job done, Schooling says that clinching the WR would ‘really be an amazing feat, something I really want. And with that extra motivation, anything can happen.’
Schooling’s performance in Rio proved his has what it takes on the big stage, clocking a speedy 50.39 for gold in an Olympic Record and in the 5th fastest performance in history. He beat a trio of fly legends in the process, with Phelps, Hungarian Laszlo Cseh and South African Chad Le Clos all tying for silver.
For anyone disappointed in the Texas Longhorn’s NCAA performance where he failed to make it into the 200y butterfly final, Schooling points to the experience as a lesson learned, a situation which has fueled him mentally.
“Now that I have experienced what losing really feels like … I don’t want to feel like that ever again,” he said. “I’m done feeling that way. And that’s good.”
Internationally, no men have clocked a 100m butterfly time beneath the 51-second mark thus far this season, with the world rankings led by Le Clos’ 51.29 from April. Several other fly sprinters look primed to challenge the Olympic gold medalist in the form of Britain’s James Guy and China’s Li Zhuhao, although each would have to put up national records to even score a time under 51 seconds.