Joseph breaks 2 records

SINGAPORE - Singapore swimmer Joseph Schooling smashed two national records at the Arena Grand Prix in Charlotte in the United States on Friday.

The 17-year-old's time of 52.33sec in the 100m butterfly rewrote his own national record of 53.18, set at the 2011 South-east Asia Games.

He also clocked 1min 49.47sec in the 200m freestyle, erasing Bryan Tay's record of 1:50.41 set at the 2008 Beijing Olympics wearing the now-banned supersuit.

Said Joseph: "I just decided to step up and race. I'm happy with my performance.

"I felt really confident before the race and I just focused on my own swim."

His timings were also good enough to clinch a gold (100 fly) and a bronze (200 free) at the USA Swimming circuit event.

The Singaporean, who lives in Florida, beat Americans Tyler McGill (52.47) and Jack Conger (53.23) to top spot in the fly event.

In the 200 free, he lost out to the US' 4x100m Olympic gold-winning team-mates Matt McLean (1:49.02) and Conor Dwyer (1:49.29).

Finishing sixth in the race with 1:49.81 was US celebrity swimmer and 11-time Olympic medallist Ryan Lochte.

Joseph's times also met the "A" qualifying time of 52.57 and "B" time of 1:52.21 for July's World Championships in Barcelona.

He said: "I'm right on track and this will give me a lot of momentum going into Barcelona."

The swimmer, who won the 50 and 200 fly golds at the 2011 SEA Games, also becomes the first Singaporean to stake his claim for a place at this December's Games in Myanmar.

Locally-based swimmers will need to qualify for the Games at next month's National Championships but overseas-based swimmers get to nominate one selected meet to clock their times.

If no other swimmer beats Joseph's times at the National Championships, the former Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) student is guaranteed his slot.

Singapore Swimming Association technical director Ian Turner was delighted with Joseph's performance, adding that he was not surprised that the fly specialist had excelled in the 200 free.

He said: "The freestyle and butterfly are closely linked and Joseph is a natural swimming athlete who is able to transfer (his ability) across both styles."

The Briton added that he hopes Joseph can finally put his stamp on the international scene in Barcelona.

"Things could not be looking any better right now. He and his coach Sergio Lopez have stuck at it and things have come to fruition," he said.

ugenec@sph.com.sg


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