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Member Spotlight: Joseph Schooling

Member Spotlight: Joseph Schooling

Feb 2, 2020

It has been years since he won the gold medal for the 100m butterfly at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, but Joseph Isaac Schooling can still recall the excitement of the win. “There were so many emotions going through my mind. I don’t really remember much from the race itself, as I was preoccupied in the zone. All I remember is finishing and touching the wall, then looking back to see my time and just going crazy. That was probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced,” he says.

Since that historic win–Singapore’s first ever Olympic gold medal–Schooling’s form has taken a bit of a tumble. However, the champion is not sweating it.

“For the most part of my career, I was always trying to surpass some athletes,” he shares. “And now that others are trying to get me down, I have to change my mentality. I have to find a different source of motivation to stay competitive and keep wanting more. I think I had a problem with that in the past because I was so used to my old mindset that I had to take a step back. It’s about trial and error, and right now I think I’m coming to a very good balance of longevity in the sport.”

Schooling thrives in the pressure that comes from being a world-class athlete. “Pressure is good; pressure is what keeps me going,” he says. However, he depends on his parents, Colin and May Schooling, as well as his best friends to keep him grounded.

“I’ve seen how others act when they’re in the spotlight and I always tell myself that I am not that kind of person. The most important thing is to be grounded and to keep your head up while working towards your goals. In the pool, I have to be cocky. If you don’t think you’re the best, then you’re not going to be the best. But that doesn’t mean you have to be an arrogant and cocky guy out of the pool,” he says.

Some of the brands and sponsors the professional swimmer is involved with include DBS, TAG Heuer and Hugo Boss. When asked how he chooses the brands he wants to work with, he reveals that the brand’s values have to be aligned to his personal values.

He finds the world of entertainment and fashion–one that he’s now also a part of–very different from the swimming world. “It’s a different feel for sure, but I like it precisely because it’s different. I embrace change and I like to experience new things. I’m not someone who just goes with the flow,” he says.

Schooling is also an ambassador for ONE°15 Marina, a role he has held since 2016. He fondly remembers his first visit to the Club, when he was invited on stage by the CEO and Chairman of SUTL Enterprise, Mr Arthur Tay, and got a chance to meet other Members.

In June 2018, Schooling had another unforgettable experience at the Club when he hosted his birthday party on board a yacht. “It was one of my best birthdays to date–a great boat, great people, great atmosphere,” he shares.

The economics major, who describes himself as laid back, admits he would rather “chill at home” than head out to a lively party. In fact, his idea of a perfect day is just staying put.

Those days don’t come by often as he’s usually in the pool for practice for up to eight hours a day. Schooling has recently reunited with his former coach and mentor, Sergio Lopez, to get ready for the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.

Despite experiencing the gruelling highs and lows in recent years, Schooling seems content with where he is at the moment: “I’m very happy with where my career is. There’s something to look forward to every day, and that makes me happy.”