Joseph Schooling is tired.
He didn’t have the appetite to finish his plate of char kway teow at lunch yesterday, despite being away for so many months.
He fell asleep in the car on the way to his swim later in the afternoon.
So it was no surprise he failed to crack his personal best in the 200m butterfly at the National Swimming Championships at the Singapore Sports School.
Joseph clocked 1 minute 58.21 seconds to win his race comfortably, although it was more than two seconds off his national record of 1min 56.18sec .
At least it was quicker than what he posted at the Olympics.
The 17-year-old was seeking redemption, after making a last-minute decision to fly home from the London Olympics last Sunday, four days earlier than scheduled.
A visibly tired Joseph wasn’t too disappointed with his swim.
“I clocked 1:58, I’m jet-lagged, (and so) I’m not really pissed,” he said.
“But I am pissed that I didn’t give my 100 per cent. I gave maybe 80, I wasn’t even breathing hard after the race.
“But, (the timing’s) better than London. What I’m most happy about is taking the initiative and telling my parents that I wanted to swim this meet, instead of taking a break in London.
“Maybe that showed I’ve matured a bit.”
His early return meant he gave up events he was previously committed to – including a scheduled one-on-one meeting with his idol, Michael Phelps.
For Joseph, it was more important to prove he was faster than the 1min 59.18sec he posted in the 200 fly heats in London on July 30.
While he was thrown off mentally when he was instructed to change his goggles and swim cap 10 minutes before his heat at the Olympics,he insisted at the time it was no excuse.
He believes it will hold him in good stead as he targets the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Although, right now, he just wants a break from the pool.
“Honestly, after Sunday, I don’t want to see a swimming pool until I head back to the States (on Aug 25),” said The Bolles School student, who is based in Florida.
“I’ll probably take a trip to Malaysia with some friends, relax, basically be a normal kid again.”
Before the break, Joseph still has a few more days of splish-splash. He will compete in the 200m freestyle today and the 100m backstroke tomorrow.
He will swim the 100m fly and flex his versatility in the 4x100m individual medley relay on the final day on Sunday.
“This is an opportunity to excel in my off-events, to try something in the other categories... it can’t always be the butterfly,” he said.
“I’m not setting any times from here. I didn’t set a time today, either.
“I don’t think I should restrict myself to a time – it’s like putting myself on cruise control.
“It’s better if I just swim my best without a time in mind, see where that gets me.”
“A week of ups and downs” was how Joseph described his time in London, but he is only interested in looking ahead.
But he doesn’t know yet when it will officially be Day One, in his preparation for the Rio Games.
“I haven’t thought of that yet,” he said.
“Preparing for the Olympics is a process. That’s why it’s once every four years.
“There are many big meets I’ll have to prepare for along the way, and each year is a stepping stone.
“I’ll have to train smart... I know that I’m nowhere close to my peak yet.”
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