SINGAPORE — Singapore’s Olympic swimming champion Joseph Schooling is set to reunite with his former coach Sergio Lopez, as he bids to end a prolonged slump in time to defend his gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
According to The Straits Times, the 24-year-old will be heading to Virginia, United States, on Sunday (8 February) to train under Lopez along with Olympic prospects from other countries.
Key coaching presence
Schooling had trained under the Spaniard while at The Bolles School in Florida from 2010 to 2014. When he was subsequently coached by Eddie Reese at the University of Texas, he still had Lopez by his side.
Lopez, an Olympic bronze medallist himself in the 200m breaststroke at the 1988 Seoul Games, had also been the head coach of the Singapore national team from 2015 to 2016, before returning to the US to join Auburn University in Alabama.
The 51-year-old moved on to Virginia Tech in 2018 to take up the swimming and diving head coach position.
According to the Straits Times, Schooling is set to be based in the US until the Tokyo Olympics in July, although he will return to Singapore in March for the National Age Group Swimming Championships.
Struggles in the past year
Schooling has struggled mightily last year. In July, he failed to even make the 100m butterfly semi-finals at the FINA Swimming World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, clocking a poor 52.93sec – a far cry from his gold-winning time of 50.39sec.
At the SEA Games in the Philippines last December, he even suffered the ignominy of being beaten by compatriots Teong Tzen Wei and Darren Chua in the 50m fly and 100m freestyle races respectively, although he managed to retain gold in the 100m fly.
He will need a dramatic improvement in the coming months in order to challenge American star Caeleb Dressel, who holds the current 100m fly world record at 49.50sec.
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