Joseph Schooling to Reunite with Coach Sergio Lopez for Tokyo Prep

Joseph Schooling Photo Courtesy: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

After a rough 2019, Joseph Schooling is reuniting with his former coach to prepare for the 2020 Olympics.

According to the Straits Times in Singapore, the reigning gold medalist in the 100 butterfly will return to the United States to train with former coach Sergio Lopez Miro as he gears up for Tokyo.

Schooling became a fixture on the world scene thanks to his work with Lopez at The Bolles School in Florida. He then trained for four years under Eddie Reese at the University of Texas, though Lopez, an Olympic bronze medalist for Spain in the 200 breaststroke at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, was still part of Schooling’s coaching staff as the head coach of Singapore’s national team leading up to Rio.

Lopez left Singapore to coach at Auburn and in 2018 was hired as the head coach at Virginia Tech, where Schooling and a group of some 15 swimmers from Hungary, Poland and Hong Kong will train.

The move aims to put a bumpy 2019 in Schooling’s rearview mirror. The 24-year-old won Singapore’s first ever World Championships medal in 2015 with a bronze in the 100 fly. He set the Olympic record by outdueling Michael Phelps, Chad Le Clos and Laszlo Cseh in a legendary 100 fly final in Rio with a time of 50.39 seconds. The 12-time NCAA champion also set a national record on the way to 16th in the 100 free in Rio and repeated as 100 fly bronze medalist at Worlds in 2017.

But the 2019 World Championships were a different matter. He failed to make the final in the 50 butterfly in Gwangju, finishing 20th, and slumped to 24th in his signature event in a time of 52.93.

He did recover to claim gold in 51.84 at the Southeast Asian Games in December, when questions were raised over Schooling’s weight  but that effort barely cracked the top 25 in the world, more than two seconds behind Caeleb Dressel’s world record (49.50). At the same meet, Schooling was beaten in the 100 free and 50 fly by lesser-known countrymen Darren Chua and Teong Tzen Wei, respectively. His best time in the 100 free in 2019, 49.16 seconds, ranked outside the top 100 in the world last year.