Sports

US Swimming chief tips Schooling for Rio medal

Frank Busch. Photo: Frank Busch
Joseph Schooling. Photo: Getty Images
Published: 4:16 AM, September 19, 2015
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SINGAPORE — A top official from one of the world’s swimming powerhouses has tipped national swimmer Joseph Schooling to win a medal at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Frank Busch, the national team director for USA Swimming, believes the 20-year-old has a strong chance of becoming the first Singaporean to win an Olympic swimming medal. He also reckons that it need not necessarily be a bronze.

University of Texas undergraduate Schooling created history and gave Singapore an early National Day present last month when he won a surprise bronze in the 100m butterfly on Aug 8 at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

As the seventh-fastest qualifier for the final, he was assigned to Lane 1, an outside lane, in the pool. The outside lanes in swimming competitions are considered the most challenging because swimmers are not able to see as many racers and judge how fast they are going. Swimmers can also be affected by the waves generated by their rivals in the inner lanes.

But despite the disadvantage, Schooling threw the formbook out the window when he led the field at the halfway mark, before finishing third in 50.96s — behind defending champion Chad le Clos (50.56s) of South Africa and Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh (50.87s).

The time was an Asian record. It is also the fourth-fastest time in the world this year for the event.

But, more importantly, Schooling’s triumph is proof of his ability to become an Olympic medal winner, said Busch, who is in town to conduct a coaching clinic for the Singapore Swimming Association.

“You’ve got somebody who is going to be a force in Rio. Joseph is a great talent,” said the 64-year-old, six-time NCAA Division 1 coach of the year, who was part of the coaching team that lead Team USA to success at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.

“When up against (multiple Olympic gold medallists), there is no substitute for confidence. And Joseph just had some great experience to build on that confidence from Kazan.

“It would have been different if he had swum in the outside lane and then finished last. Then he would say, well, I made the final, and that is great, and I am really happy to just be here. So he is able to not think that he doesn’t have a chance. He was able to overcome that (thinking). That was a big sign from him.”

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