SCHOOLED! When A 21-Year-Old Singapore Swimmer Beat His Hero Michael Phelps at the Olympics

Published 07/19/2021, 1:18 PM EDT
OMAHA, NE – JULY 02: Michael Phelps of the United States competes in the final heat for the Men’s 100 Meter Butterfly during Day Seven of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Swimming Trials at CenturyLink Center on July 2, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)


A lot of people desire to meet their heroes, but Joseph Schooling beat his. When Schooling shared the podium with Michael Phelps during the 2016 Rio Olympics, his life goal had been achieved. Here’s a recap of what went down and how Phelps and Schooling initially reacted to the incident! 

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Four years ago at the Rio Olympics, Joseph Schooling came into the 100m butterfly not as a favorite, but as an underdog. Of course, reigning champion Michael Phelps was expected to succeed in his title defense, but a Schooling denied him of a glorious moment in his swansong. 

TOPSHOT – USA’s Michael Phelps competes in a Men’s 200m Individual Medley heat during the swimming event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 10, 2016. / AFP / François-Xavier MARIT (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS-XAVIER MARIT/AFP via Getty Images)

Joseph Schooling broke the Olympic record and beat Michael Phelps in the 100m butterfly 

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

The 100m butterfly is a very special event for Michael Phelps. He won a hat-trick of golds in this event in 2004, 2018, and 2012, but Joseph Schooling spoiled the party in 2016. The Singaporean swimmer went all guns blazing and earned his nation its first Olympic gold. 

The fact that Joseph Schooling outdueled not only Michael Phelps but also giants like Chad le Clos and Laszlo Cseh in the same race is unbelievable. Schooling took gold with a blistering time of 50.39 while Phelps, le Clos, and Cseh all touched in at 51.14 for the first three-way tie for silver in Olympic swimming history. 

The win was even special for Schooling as he idolized Michael Phelps. In fact, Schooling had famously taken a picture in 2008 with Phelps when he was just eight years old. Phelps was at the peak of his career then. 

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Schooling said after the win. “I don’t know what to believe, like, whether I actually did it or I’m still preparing for my race.”

“That’s pretty crazy, what happens in eight years. I’m just honored and privileged to have the chance to race alongside him,” he added. 

From idolizing Michael Phelps to beating him at the Olympics, Joseph Schooling had lived through his dream. But why did he become a swimmer in the first place? 

Schooling took up swimming because his parents almost drowned twice

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

As a kid, Joseph Schooling often receiving warnings from his parents to stay away from water. Their ever-growing concern was because they had almost drowned twice in water. 

He took up the sport seriously when he was 13 and Schooling then moved to the United States to pursue his Olympic dream at the age of 14. He then fulfilled it by qualifying for the 2012 London games, but Schooling earned glory only in Rio. 

The Tokyo Olympics 2020 might be Schooling’s final appearance at the summer games. The 26-year-old is planning to retire and venture into a bright future. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Trending Stories

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

Arjun Athreya

2037 articles

Arjun Athreya is a senior writer at Essentially Sports and has been contributing since early 2020. Having developed an avid interest in sports at an early age, he pursued a Journalism degree and graduated from Madras Christian College. Arjun manages the Golf division and its content, and primarily covers news pertaining to the NBA as well.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT