Despite feeling under the weather, Joseph Schooling anchored the University of Texas team to help them win the 400 yard freestyle relay title at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships in a new NCAA record and US Open record of 2:45.39.
On Saturday night (Sunday morning Singapore time), the team broke the previous NCAA record of 2:46.03 held by Auburn in 2009 in the final race of the competition. Despite not winning an individual title at this meet, Schooling’s swims helped the university clinch the national championship for the third year running. Texas now owns 13 national championship titles in swimming and diving – the most in college history.
Schooling placed third in the 50 free, and second in the 100 fly. He did not qualify for the 200 fly. The Texas relay teams broke NCAA records in the 200 medley relay, 400 medley relay, and 400 free relay. Reflecting on the meet, Schooling said, “On the whole, I think it could have been a better meet for me with regards to my individual events. It didn’t help that I was down with fever before the 100 fly but I managed to get by that day. It got worse and I was contemplating on scratching the 200 fly but I didn’t want to let the team down by not being able to swim in the 400 freestyle relay. Glad that we did it in the 400 freestyle relay and took the record as well.”
Texas head coach Eddie Reese confirmed that Schooling was unwell during the meet. In an interview with Swimming World Magazine on Saturday evening (Sunday morning Singapore time) before the 400 free relay, he said, “Joseph got sick probably right after the prelims of the 100 fly. We decided to go on. He decided after…I shouldn’t talk about illnesses,” he said. But Reese is confident Schooling will come back stronger. “He will be way better next year. he’s already talked to me about that,” said Reese.
Earlier this week, Schooling revealed that he took a break from swimming for one semester after his gold medal-winning performance at the Olympics.
Reese clarified that he did not need to convince Schooling to come back for training and also praised his work ethic. He said, “You’ve got to realise – he had all his lifetime goals answered in one race. He wanted to win a medal in the Olympics, he wanted to beat Michael Phelps, he wanted to win an Olympic gold medal. It all happened in the same race. He should have been through. I didn’t talk him into coming back.
“He’s real set on getting an education and he’s not sure if he was a pro he would do that – he’s talking discipline-wise. But he’s a worker. He does amazing stuff.”
— Texas Men’sSwimDive (@TexasMSD) March 26, 2017