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Interview with Joseph Schooling: Olympic gold medalist swimmer Special

Olympic gold medalist swimmer Joseph Schooling chatted with Digital Journal about his future plans, Olympic victory, and "The Schooling Effect." He also discussed the impact of technology in aquatics and shared his advice for aspiring swimmers.

Schooling won the gold medal in the 100 meter butterfly at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where he made Olympic history. He earned Singapore's first-ever Olympic medal in swimming, and Singapore's first-ever gold medal in any Olympic event. "I have always dreamed of winning an Olympic gold since I was very young and to achieve that dream in Rio in 2016, in my second Olympic Games, was surreal," he said. "When I was approaching the wall in Rio, I know that the other competitors were just also rushing into the wall and I just put my head down and raced towards the wall. Then, I turned around and looked at the scoreboard, and at that moment, the feeling was just fantastic: surreal, relieved and happy!"
For Schooling, it was quite emotional to the national anthem of Singapore played in his honor at the Olympic Games. "It is always a warm and emotional feeling when you hear your national anthem being played and the emotions were even stronger in Rio, being Singapore's first Olympic gold medal! When you are on the podium, your feelings just all rush in and sometimes, it is difficult to sing it, as all your thoughts of how you got there and the difficult journey. You really feel up in the clouds," he said.
2017 World Championships in Budapest
At the 2017 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, this summer, Schooling won the bronze medal in the 100 meter butterfly. "I took a three-month break from hard training, after Rio. I was distracted and so that resulted in only a bronze medal finish at the World Championships. It was hard, and I don't like the feeling of not getting to my goals. Budapest was definitely a good experience as well. It is the first time that I managed to stay on a couple of days after a major competition and I spent some time with a group of Singaporean children as part of an initiative called 'Lifting Dreams,' that was hosted by Singapore Ambassador to Hungary," he said.
Future Plans
On his plans for the future, Schooling said, "My final NCAA Championships will be in March of 2018, and I will also be completing my studies next year. It will be a busy year in 2018 with the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games on the card. The Commonwealth Games will be a big challenge, as it is immediately after the NCAAs. I have to switch swimming short course yards to long course meters. At the moment, my plans are to do my best in the upcoming events the next few years, but my target is to retain my gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. After my studies, I have yet to decide the next steps, but it is on the drawing board."
The Schooling Effect
Schooling also opened up about "The Schooling Effect." "It is an initiative that started after my gold medal win in Rio and the reception that I received from Singaporeans. The media who reported on the events mentioned that it is because of the 'Schooling Effect' that there were unprecedented crowds that came out to meet and greet me. I was lucky to have parents who supported my Olympic dream, but there are plenty of kids out there, who are not as lucky as me. Hopefully, I will be able to do my part to help these kids achieve their dreams," he explained.
Motivations
The Olympic champion is motivated by setting goals for himself and going after those goals. "I will always set new goals for myself, and as long as I still enjoy swimming and going after my goals, that will be enough to keep me waking up early for training everyday. I also set goals for what I want to be other than a swimmer, and will be happy to study hard to get there," he said.
Digital transformation of aquatics
On the impact of technology in aquatics, Schooling said, "Technology is a very important component in sports now. It not only helps you to stay on top of your game, but also can give you the winning edge if you use it properly. I had the privilege of working with biomechanist Ryan Hodierne in the lead up to the Olympics, and he was instrumental in helping me with my race plans. A lot of the top swimming nations are using technology to help athletes achieve success, and it is definitely something that will be necessary for top athletes in any sport in the near future."
Regarding his use of technology on a daily basis in his daily routine, he said, "There are plenty of different components that I can use on a daily basis. At the University of Texas, there is a video camera that will record my practice and there is also a gadget that I place in my swim cap. The footage and statistics from the device will be made available to all my coaches including those in Singapore, and they will be able to give me feedback almost immediately. I also wear a device on my wrist and this helps monitor my sleeping patterns and my workout level so that it can be planned to make me more efficient and productive."
Advice for aspiring swimmers
Schooling shared his inspirational advice for aspiring swimmers, which is as follows: "Dare to dream." "I dared to dream and so can all of you! When you believe in yourself and keep working hard, you will achieve your dreams one day. It is never easy becoming a serious athlete, there are a lot of sacrifices. There will be times when you don't feel like doing what you need to do, but at the end of the day, if you have a goal in mind and work hard towards that goal, you will get there," he said.
For his fans and followers, he expressed his appreciation and gratitude for all of their support. "I would like to thank them for following and supporting me. I appreciate that very much. I am not able to answer everyone and thank them, but I do try to do as many as possible. When I won the gold medal, the reception that I received from family, fans, supporters and friends all over the world was amazing! Hopefully, I will be able to meet them in the near future and thank them," he said, effusively.
Joseph Schooling concluded our interview by sharing his definition of the word success. "Success to me means that I can do very well in something I love, wholeheartedly and it brings rewards not only to me but others," he said.
To learn more about "The Schooling Effect," check out its official website and Facebook page.
For more information on Olympic gold medalist swimmer Joseph Schooling, check out his official Facebook page and follow him on Instagram.