Joseph Schooling

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Joseph Schooling
Joseph Schooling Kazan 2015.jpg
Schooling at 2015 World Championships
Personal information
Full name Joseph Isaac Schooling
National team  Singapore
Born (1995-06-16) 16 June 1995 (age 21)
Height 1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)
Weight 78 kg (172 lb)
Sport Swimming
Strokes Butterfly, freestyle, medley
College team University of Texas (US)

Joseph Isaac Schooling (born 16 June 1995) is a Singaporean swimmer. He is the gold medallist in the 100 m butterfly at the 2016 Olympics, attaining Singapore's first-ever Olympic medal in swimming, as well as its first-ever Olympic gold medal in any sport. [1] His winning time of 50.39 seconds is a National, Asian, and Olympic record.

He is currently studying at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is a member of the Texas Longhorns swimming team, one of the top collegiate swim programmes under two-time United States Olympic men's head coach Eddie Reese.[2][3] He first qualified for the Olympics in 2012 after winning the 200 m butterfly at the 2011 SEA Games.[4]

Personal life and family[edit]

Joseph Schooling, born and raised in Singapore, is a third-generation Singaporean.[5] Joseph Schooling is the only child of May and Colin Schooling,[6] and is of Eurasian ethnicity.[6] May is a Chinese Malaysian and a Singapore Permanent Resident who had represented the Malaysian state of Perak in tennis;[7] while Colin, a businessman born in Singapore and educated at Raffles Institution, was a hurdler and water polo player who represented Singapore in softball.[7] His grand-uncle, Lloyd Valberg, was Singapore's first Olympian in the 1948 Summer Olympics.[7] Schooling's great grandfather was a British military officer who married a Portuguese-Eurasian in Singapore.[5]

Schooling's early years of education were spent at the Anglo-Chinese School (Junior) in Singapore. He next attended Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), but left for the United States in 2009 when he was 14 years old. He joined the Bolles School in Florida. In 2014, after completion of his high school education at Jacksonville, he enrolled at the University of Texas.[8]

When he was 13 years of age in 2008, the U.S. Swimming Team turned up at a training camp in Singapore. They were on their way to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Schooling seized the chance to have a photo taken with his idol, Michael Phelps, who is a source of inspiration to him.[9] Surprisingly, he would later out-swim his idol in the 100 m butterfly at the 2016 Summer Olympics.[10][11]

Schooling is a big football fan and considers Chelsea F.C. his favourite team. In an online interview released on Chelsea's website, Schooling spoke about his passion for the team.[12][13]


The first notable incident that inspired Schooling to embark on his arduous Olympic journey, could be traced to a conversation he had with his relatives about his grand-uncle, Lloyd Valberg, Singapore's first Olympian at the 1948 London Games.[14] That was when he wanted to be an "Olympic Champion". He said to his father, " I want to go to the Olympics!". Colin Schooling, his father didn't imagine it as anything more than childish banter, so he simply nodded his head, replying "Okay!", until he was awakened one morning while the family was on a holiday in Ipoh, Malaysia.

It was 4am and dark outside, but little Joseph Schooling was shaking his dad's shoulders. He "needed" to go for training (in swimming) and his dad was to take him to the Ipoh Swim pool. That was when it struck Colin. His 8 year old son was serious, he meant what he said, he wanted to be an Olympic Champion.

Since then, Colin Schooling and his wife, May left no stones unturned to ensure that their only son be given all the help he needed to attain his Olympic dreams.

By the time Schooling was nine, it became clear that he had the ability to win medals at international swim competitions.

Colin researched books, schools, programmes, kept records of his son's progress in swimming, all times attained, trophies won at swim competitions.[15] He even devised his own swim paraphernalia to help his son during swim training.

In the early part of his career, Schooling was trained by coaches and swimmers of Australia under the monitoring of Monash University in a Singapore Sports Council programme. The "Excel" centre was closed down in 2009, so the Schoolings began the search for an American Swim School that will nurture their boy to achieve his potential in swimming.

At the 2011 Southeast Asian Games, Schooling's 1:56.67 winning time in the 200 fly met the "A” qualifying mark for the 2012 London Olympics.[12] Unfortunately, he did not qualify for the semi-finals after finishing poorly in his heats where swimming officials disallowed the use of his swimming cap and goggles.

Schooling was supposed to begin serving the Singapore's National Service from October 2013. This is compulsory for all able-bodied male youths at 18. His parents appealed to have it deferred until the end of 2016 Summer Olympic Games to ensure continuation of his training.

Schooling is the first Singaporean to win a swimming medal at the Commonwealth Games, taking silver in the 100 m butterfly at the 2014 games in Glasgow.[16]

2014 Asian Games[edit]

Schooling's major breakthrough finally came during the Incheon Asian Games, where he clocked 51.76 seconds in the Men's 100-metre Butterfly Finals. Schooling's timing of 51.76 seconds was a new Asian Games record. Notably, it was Singapore's first Asian Games gold in the men's category since Ang Peng Siong's 100 m freestyle gold at the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi.

"I'm very happy with my performance. I'm so glad I could win Singapore's first gold medal of the Games, and I hope there will be more to come. I felt good prior to the race and managed to swim according to the race plan that Sergio Lopez (Schooling's coach) had planned. The support from the Singapore fans was fantastic as I could hear them cheering when I walked out from the call room and also not forgetting the overall team support that is always there for me," said the 19-year-old.[17] Schooling had earlier won a bronze for the 200 m butterfly event, ending a 24-year medal drought for Singapore's male swimming event. He followed that by winning a silver in the 50 m butterfly event.

28th SEA Games[edit]

At the 28th SEA Games held in Singapore,[18] Schooling took part in nine events, achieving gold and breaking Games Records in all of them. Schooling's time of 22.47 seconds in the 50 m freestyle broke a 33-year national record (22.69 s) that was held by Ang Peng Siong, who had set it at the 1982 US Swimming Championships.[19]

16th FINA World Championships[edit]

Schooling continued with his streak of achievements in the 2015 World Aquatics Championships. He advanced to the 50 m and 100 m butterfly finals, breaking the National Records for both events. In the 50 m butterfly event, he broke the Asian Record in the semi-finals before breaking it again in the finals with a time of 23.25 seconds,[20] while in the 100 m butterfly event, he broke the Asian Record in the finals, with a time of 50.96 seconds. This is good enough for him to win a Bronze medal. This is Singapore's first ever medal at the FINA World Aquatics Championships.[21]

2016 Olympics[edit]

On 12 August 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Schooling won a gold medal in the 100 m butterfly with a time of 50.39 seconds, the first Olympic gold medal won by Singapore.[22] Schooling's time of 50.39 was 0.75 seconds faster than the 51.14 seconds won by the trio of: Michael Phelps, Chad le Clos and László Cseh who tied for silver. It was the largest Olympic winning margin in the event since Mark Spitz's victory at the 1972 Summer Olympics. The time set a new Olympic record, beating Phelps' record of 50.58 seconds at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Schooling's win is "third" on the all-time list of the 100 m butterfly world record. Only Phelps and Milorad Cavic had achieved better times. Schooling's Olympic record eclipsed the unofficial 'textile swimsuit' world best held by Ian Crocker at 50.40 (2005), before high-tech polyurethane and full-body (men) swimsuits (2008–2009) were banned by FINA from January 2010.[23][24][25][26]

In the semi-finals on 11 August 2016, Schooling swam 50.83 seconds as the fastest qualifier for the final.[27] The time was a personal best, a national record, an Asian record, and the fastest time then-recorded in 2016 for the event,[27] but only for a day as Schooling improved his time in the final.[28]

Notably, Schooling is the first male swimmer in Southeast Asian region to win an Olympic gold medal.[28]

The Singapore National Olympic Council awarded Schooling S$1 million (about US$740,000) under the Multi-Million Dollar Award Programme (MAP), 20% of which had to be ploughed back to the Singapore Swimming Association for future training and development.[29] Singapore's unique "rewards for sports excellence" is deemed to be the world's largest Olympic cash prize.[30] As a University of Texas collegiate swimmer, Schooling is subject to the NCAA's strict rules against amateur sportsmen accepting monetary compensation. However, Schooling will likely receive his country's award as it fell within the NCAA exception of awards to foreign students which allow the high cost of sports training to be defrayed.[31]

To mark Schooling's historic gold medal, a victory parade was held in Singapore and it was attended by massive crowds.[32]

In an interview with Channel NewsAsia, Schooling paid tribute to the unsung heroes behind his Rio success, such as nutritionist Kirsty Fairbairn, biomechanist Ryan Hodierne and high performance manager Sonya Porter.[33]

Schooling's stellar performance in Rio was listed in swimming magazine Swim Swam's Top 10 Swims Of 2016. He came in at No. 4, after Hungarian Katinka Hosszú (400 IM, Rio Olympics), American Katie Ledecky (800 m freestyle, Rio Olympics), Briton Adam Peaty (100 m breaststroke, Rio Olympics).[34] [35]


At The Straits Times (ST) Singaporean of the Year 2016 award ceremony held at UBS Business University, on 6 Feb 2017, the Schooling family beat 11 other contenders, to the prestigious award. Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam presented May and Colin Schooling with the Singaporean of the Year trophy and a S$20,000 cash prize. Joseph Schooling, who was unable to attend the ceremony due to school and training commitments in the United States, thanked Singaporeans for their support and congratulated his fellow award nominees in a video message. He paid tribute to his parents who played a significant role to groom him to where he is today.[36][37]

Schooling became the first athlete to receive The Straits Times Athlete of the Year award for a second time, 10 days after receiving ST Singaporean of the Year 2016 award. Schooling, who received the award in 2015, topped a field that included Yip Pin Xiu (swimming), Peter Gilchrist (billards), New Hui Fen (bowling) and Sheik Farhan Sheik Alau'ddin (silat). His parents, Colin and May Schooling, received the trophy on his behalf from guest of honour Grace Fu, the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, at a ceremony attended by 150 people at One Farrer Hotel and Spa. [38]


  1. ^ Swimming World Magazine - Joseph Schooling Wins Singapore’s First Ever Olympic Swimming Medal With 100 Fly Victory
  2. ^ "Swim sensation Joseph Schooling of ACS(I) lights up inter-school championships". Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  3. ^ Goh, Philip (25 September 2014). "Schooling strikes gold for Singapore". MediaCorp. TODAY. Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  4. ^ Les Tan (16 November 2011). "SEA Games Swimming: Joseph Schooling destroys field and qualifies for Olympics". Retrieved 16 December 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "Singapore Asiad star's dad refutes 'foreigner' tag". Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Chua, Siang Yee. "My boy Joseph is a true son of Singapore, says Colin Schooling". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 12 October 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c Chua, Siang Yee (30 September 2014). "Chat Made Games Dream Fly". AsiaOne. 
  8. ^ Berkowitz, Steve (13 August 2016). "Olympic swimmer Joseph Schooling scores big in butterfly with $740,000 in win over Phelps". USA TODAY. 
  9. ^ Moss, Stephen (16 August 2016). "This year's Olympians prove it: you should always meet your hero". The Guardian. 
  10. ^ Driscoll, Shea (12 August 2016). "Once a star-struck teenager, Joseph Schooling now challenging swim idol Michael Phelps for Olympic medal". Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  11. ^ Cato, Tim (13 August 2016). "Olympic swimming results 2016: Joseph Schooling beats Michael Phelps to win gold in men's 100m butterfly". Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  12. ^ a b "Joseph Schooling: The Singapore flyer". 24 September 2014. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  13. ^ "Joseph Schooling shares his Blues passion in interview with Chelsea". 11 June 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  14. ^ "The coming of Joseph Schooling". Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  15. ^ "Colin Schooling: The world has taken notice of Joseph and Singapore". Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  16. ^ "Commonwealth Games: Schooling wins Singapore's first swimming medal, clinching silver in 100 m butterfly final". 29 July 2014. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  17. ^ "Asian Games 100m Butterfly: Joseph Schooling clinches first gold for Singapore". 24 September 2014. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  18. ^ Priscilla Chew (19 November 2013). "Swimmer Joseph Schooling: Singapore's Gold Medal Prospect at the SEA Games". 
  19. ^ "SEA Games: Schooling breaks 33-year-old national record". Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  20. ^ "Men's 50m Butterfly Final Results". Omega Timing. 3 August 2015. Retrieved 3 August 2015. 
  21. ^ "Joseph Schooling wins historic bronze at World Championships". Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  22. ^ "Phelps suffers shock defeat by Schooling, Singapore's first Olympic gold medallist". RIO 2016 Official website. 12 August 2016. 
  23. ^ Schooling Surpasses Crocker for Fastest Ever Textile 100 Fly, Aug 13, 2016
  24. ^ Olympics: How international media reported Joseph Schooling's historic win, Aug 13, 2016
  25. ^ "Schooling Phelps: Singapore swimmer beats his idol for gold". Associated Press. Retrieved 14 August 2016. 
  26. ^ Chappell, Bill (12 August 2016). "Michael Phelps Misses Shot at 5th Gold Medal in Rio, Wins Silver in Butterfly". NPR. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  27. ^ a b Wong, Jonathan (11 August 2016). "Olympics: Showdown in Rio as Schooling eyes gold". The Straits Times. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  28. ^ a b "Joseph Schooling is Singapore's first-ever Olympics champion". Channel NewsAsia. 13 August 2016. 
  29. ^ "Joseph Schooling wins Singapore's first Olympic gold, beating childhood idol Phelps". AsiaOne. 13 August 2016. 
  30. ^ "Here's How Much Money Olympic Gold Medalists Win in Each Country". 10 August 2016. 
  31. ^ "How Olympics could be lucrative for University of Texas swimmer". USA Today. 2 August 2016. 
  32. ^
  33. ^ Hassan, Nadia Jansen (27 November 2016). "National associations can do better job of funding local athletes: Joseph Schooling". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 2016-12-03. 
  34. ^ by Lauren Neidigh
  35. ^ Joseph Schooling's Olympic triumph listed among top 10 swims of 2016 by Swim Swam The Straits Times, 04 Jan 2017.
  36. ^ Schooling family named The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year 2016 The Straits Times, 06 Feb 2017
  37. ^ 'Without their help, love and contributions, I would not be where I am today' The Straits Times, 07 Feb 2017
  38. ^ Olympic champion Joseph Schooling is ST's Athlete of the Year for 2016 The Straits Times, 16 Feb 2017

External links[edit]