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Schooling to quit swimming in 2024, and he wants more before hanging up his goggles

JAKARTA — Two years after clinching a historic gold for Singapore at the Rio Olympic Games, national swimmer Joseph Schooling has given himself six years to make his mark as a professional swimmer before he hangs up his swimming trunks and goggles.

JAKARTA — Two years after clinching a historic gold for Singapore at the Rio Olympic Games, national swimmer Joseph Schooling has given himself six years to make his mark as a professional swimmer before he hangs up his swimming trunks and goggles.

Revealing this in an interview on Saturday (Aug 18), this is the first time the 23-year-old has indicated that he plans to stop swimming in 2024.

The six-year deadline will give Schooling another two shots at Olympic glory in Tokyo 2020, and Paris in 2024.

While his thrilling 50.39sec race to the finish against American great Michael Phelps in the men’s 100m butterfly in Brazil may have catapulted him to international fame – and cemented his status as a Singaporean hero – Schooling is ready to move on from the past, and achieve greater success in his career.

“Rio changed my life, but I like to live in the present… I want to swim until 2024, I don’t think I want to swim past 2024 right now,” said the swimmer ahead of the Asian Games opening ceremony in Jakarta on Saturday.

Well aware that up-and-coming swimmers such as seven-time world champion Caeleb Dressel will be looking to usurp his crown, Schooling admitted that he will have his work cut out for him in 2020.

“For sure (it’ll be harder to win the 100 fly in Tokyo), you always want to prepare yourself for the worst, or hardest… I train to be in the worst possible scenario, you train as hard as you can so you can be at your fittest.”

Looking leaner after spending the past few months on a strict diet while training with the national squad, Schooling is ready to get back to winning ways in Jakarta after a less than stellar 2017 season that saw him ending his collegiate career at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) without any silverware. While he won a joint-bronze in the 100m fly at the Fina World Championships last year, it was former Bolles schoolmate Dressel who stole the show in Budapest, as the American swimmer created waves with his seven gold feat in the pool.

He added: “Last year was an interesting year, it was much needed, but this year we’re right back on track and you don’t really think about medals, you think about racing yourself. I come into this week trying to race myself, trying to race my expectations and that’s all I can focus on.”

With Olympic champion Schooling headlining the 25-strong Singapore squad, they will be looking to Schooling to help better Team Singapore’s six medal haul from the 2014 Asiad.

Schooling is penciled in for five events – 50m freestyle, 50m and 100m butterfly, men’s 4x100m freestyle relay, 4x100m medley relay – at the Asian Games, and the swimmer is feeling bullish about the relay team’s chances at the Asian Games.

Speaking to reporters after a training session at the Gelora Bung Karno Aquatics Centre on Saturday, he said: “That’ll be huge (winning a relay medal), we have a good shot at medaling all three relays.

“We have a good group of guys coming in, and I’m very excited to see what the guys can do.”

A medal in the relays here will also be a boost to the Singapore Swimming Association’s target of qualifying a relay team for the Olympic Games in the future.

Back at the Games where he first announced his arrival at the international stage with a historic gold in the 100m fly – he also won a silver and bronze in the 50m and 200m fly respectively – Schooling is itching to get down to racing after months of hard training in the pool.

He said: “I’ve had some good training under my belt, I feel a lot better than I did last year at SEA Games.

“It’s always nice to come back and race in a crowd like this. I’ve been feeling good leading up to this meet and it’s always a stage I’m comfortable performing on... I’m excited to see what I can do.”

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