Joseph Schooling, 28, retires from swimming

Hanging up his swimming cap and goggles.

Hannah Martens | April 02, 2024, 07:19 AM



Singapore's first Olympic gold medalist, Joseph Schooling, has announced his retirement from competitive swimming.

The 28-year-old made the announcement on Facebook on Apr. 2, 2024.

"I am filled with gratitude for every experience that swimming has brought into my life. The victories were exhilarating, the defeats humbling, and together, they have forged a resilience in me that I will carry forward into my next chapter."

Schooling added that he owed "a tremendous amount of gratitude" to his family, coaches, teammates and supporters whose encouragement and faith have been a constant source of motivation throughout his journey.

"While I am stepping away from competing, swimming will forever be a part of who I am. It has given me a platform to inspire others to chase their dreams, no matter the odds.

I am eager to explore new passions, face different challenges, and see where this next phase of life takes me. Thank you to my supporters for standing by me every step of the way. I hope you will join me as I embark on this new adventure."

Photo via Facebook

Historic career

During the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Schooling clinched Singapore's first-ever Olympic gold in the 100m men's butterfly.

Schooling beat legends like László Cseh of Hungary, Chad le Clos from South Africa, and Schooling's childhood idol, Michael Phelps to secure the win.

He also set a new Olympic record that year with a time of 50.39 seconds.

Schooling made his debut for Singapore at the 2011 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, where he won gold in the 50m and 200m butterfly race and a bronze in the 100m butterfly.

He also won a silver in the 200m individual medley.

His win in the 200m butterfly race qualified him for the 2012 Olympics in London, but he did not advance to the semi-finals.

In 2014, Schooling won a silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

During the 2014 Asian Games, Schooling won gold in the 100m butterfly event.

At the 2015 SEA Games, Schooling took part in nine events and won gold in all of them.

Schooling took home the bronze medal at the 2015 FINA World Championships

At the 2017 FINA World Championships, Schooling obtained a joint bronze medal with British swimmer James Guy.

During the 2017 SEA Games, Schooling swam in six events and won all of them.

In the 2018 Asian Games, he won gold in the 50m and 100m butterfly and clinched bronze in two relays.

While he did not qualify for the semi-finals at the 2019 FINA World Championships, he won four gold and two silver medals at the 2019 SEA Games.

At the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Schooling was unable to defend his 100m butterfly title as he failed to qualify for the semi-finals. He was also unable to qualify for the 100m freestyle.

In the 2021 SEA Games, Schooling won two golds and a bronze medal.

Confessed to taking cannabis

After deferring his National Service (NS) for seven years from 2014 to 2021, Schooling enlisted in January 2022.

On Aug. 30, 2022, Schooling confessed to taking cannabis overseas in May 2022.

However, he tested negative for controlled drugs in his urine test.

According to MINDEF, he consumed the drug while he was on short-term disruption from full-time NS to train and participate in the SEA Games.

He was placed on a supervised urine test regime for six months and was not eligible for leave or disruption to train or compete while serving his NS.

Schooling issued an apology on his Instagram Stories, apologising for the "hurt" he has caused to "everyone around (him)", in particular his family and the "young fans who look up to (him)".

He admitted that he "demonstrated bad judgement" and "gave in to a moment of weakness after going through a very tough period of (his) life".

In November 2021, Schooling lost his father, Colin Schooling, to cancer.

Schooling announced on Mar. 1, 2023, that he pulled out of the 2023 SEA Games.

"After careful consideration with my team, I have decided to pull out of the SEA Games.

This was not an easy decision, but I am currently not at the level at which I hold myself to perform. Ultimately, my country comes first before individual accolades.

I have decided to give my spot to team mates who have been getting themselves ready and considered for selection while I cheer from home and focus on my Navy duties."

It was the first time he did not represent Singapore at the SEA Games since 2011.

Top photos via Joseph Schooling/Facebook