Joseph Schooling

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Singapore’s swimming hero struggling at world championships

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GWANGJU, South Korea (AP) — For all its spoils, winning an Olympic gold medal has its downsides. Joseph Schooling is finding that out.

The swimmer who became a national hero with Singapore’s first Olympic medal in the pool three years ago is searching to regain his form in time for next year’s Tokyo Games.

“Some people ask me how long it takes to get over the fact that you won in 2016,” he said. “It took me longer than I wanted to for sure.”

He’s still waiting.

Schooling failed to advance in the 100-meter butterfly heats at the world championships on Friday. He finished 24th overall with a time of 52.93 seconds — well off his winning time of 50.39 in Rio.

In the last two world meets, he earned bronze medals in his signature event.

Schooling also didn’t make it out of the 50 fly heats, finishing 20th overall in 23.73.

“This was a huge reality check of what I need to do moving forward,” he said.

The 24-year-old swimmer is in Gwangju during a time of major personal upheaval.

After spending 10 years in the U.S., including earning a college degree from Texas, Schooling moved back to Singapore. He’s also working with different coaches.

“It was time to come home,” he said. “It was something that I needed to do if I wanted to keep swimming longer. I felt like I was going through the motions on a daily basis and I needed a new sensory shock.”

Schooling, an only child, is living with his parents for now.

“We’re going to fix that next year,” he said, smiling.

Winning gold while beating Michael Phelps in the American’s last Olympic race elevated Schooling to rock-star status in the island-nation state. He even has an orchid named after him.

“I, for sure, have more sleepless nights than I can count,” he said.

But Schooling is eager to focus on the positives, like knowing what he needs to do with his training in Singapore.

“I’ll come back next year a new swimmer,” he vowed.

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Joseph Schooling eyes Michael Phelps’ world record at world champs

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Shortly after Joseph Schooling upset Michael Phelps in the Rio Olympic 100m butterfly, the Singapore swimmer made his next goal quite clear.

Take Phelps’ 100m butterfly world record.

Schooling repeated that claim after returning to the University of Texas for his junior season in November and again following March’s NCAA Championships, where he was beaten by Caeleb Dressel in the 100-yard butterfly.

The goal is apparently an imminent one.

Schooling said he believes he can break Phelps’ record at the world championships in Budapest in July, according to Channel News Asia. It would require lowering his personal best by more than a half-second.

“I’m looking forward to that race, and deep down I think if I do what I know I can do, if I execute everything well perfectly, I’d have a really good shot,” Schooling said Thursday, according to the report.

Schooling, 21, hasn’t raced a 100m butterfly since the Olympics, where he clocked 50.39 seconds. That broke Phelps’ Olympic record of 50.58 set at the 2008 Olympics. It’s the fifth-fastest time ever.

All of the top four times, including Phelps’ world record of 49.82, were set in 2009 at the peak of the high-tech swimsuit era.

“My dad told me 50.39 is a world record in a textile suit, but I want the world record on paper,” Schooling reportedly said less than a week after his Olympic title in August. “My next goal is breaking 49.8.”

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NCAA might reconsider Olympic bonuses after swimmer received $750,000

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NCAA President Mark Emmert says the association might reconsider allowing college athletes who compete in the Olympics to accept payments for performance.

The NCAA rules allow athletes to accept money for training from the U.S. Olympic Committee or similar organizations in other countries along with national sports governing bodies.

Athletes can also keep bonuses given for winning medals. A gold medal was worth $25,000 for U.S. athletes in Rio. A silver paid $15,000 and a bronze $10,000. The NCAA has been OK with the USOC’s bonus program since 2001.

“The NCAA, at that time, the members passed a rule that said, ‘You know what? That’s fine. A kid wins a gold medal for his or her country, they can take $25,000,'” Emmert said Thursday. “‘They get to do it once in their academic career. It’s an extraordinary thing. We’ve got, like, five of those or 10 of those in any one year. Good for them.’”

In 2015, it allowed for athletes to accept similar bonuses from other countries. For some countries, the payments are much greater than America’s.

Swimmer Joseph Schooling, who attends the University of Texas and competes for Singapore, received more than $750,000 for winning gold over Michael Phelps in the 100m butterfly.

“To be perfectly honest, it’s causing everybody to go, ‘Oh, well, that’s not really what we were thinking about,'” Emmert said. “So, I don’t know where the members will go on that. I mean, that’s a little different than 15 grand for the silver medal for swimming for the U.S. of A. So, I think that’s going to stimulate a very interesting conversation.”

Emmert said during an interview with Aspen Institute that amount was far more than what NCAA membership had in mind.

“The question is whether that person is still an amateur,” Emmert said. “Because if they competed in South Africa and then [were] paid $750,000 to play ball in South Africa, they would be declared a professional athlete and not eligible for NCAA play. That’s the fundamental problem.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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