GWANGJU, South Korea: Olympic champion Joseph Schooling has vowed to "come back a new swimmer" after crashing out in the heats of the 100m butterfly event at the FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea on Friday (Jul 26).
Schooling finished eighth in his heat, which was won by Hungary’s Kristof Milak who clocked a time of 51.42s.
The 100m butterfly is Schooling’s pet event - he won the gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics in a Games record of 50.39s.
He clocked a time of 52.93s to finish 24th overall in Gwangju. United States’ Caeleb Dressel finished overall first in the heats with 50.28s, eclipsing Schooling's Olympic record.
Schooling said it has been a "huge transition" coming back to Singapore after spending five years in the United States.
"This was a huge reality check of what I need to do moving forward," he said.
"I've gone through a lot of things in the last four months that I've not experienced before. I'm obviously very disappointed with the time, but I'm not going to dwell on this performance - maybe I would have two years ago, but no - there are a lot of positives to look at."
Schooling had also failed to qualify for the semi-final of the 50m butterfly event on Sunday, finishing seventh in his heat and 20th overall.
The 24-year-old said he was looking forward to the Olympics in Tokyo next year.
"All I can do is to go back and fix the things I could have done and do better," he added.
"I have got a lot of work to do going into next year. This is something I had to go through, and it's better that this happened this year than next year.
"This has put fire in my belly and I need to just keep moving forward in my preparations for next year."
In the last edition of the World Championships held in Budapest, Hungary, Schooling finished joint-third. He clocked 50.83s in the 2017 meet to clinch bronze alongside Great Britain’s James Guy. The event was won by Dressel.
At last year’s Asian Games, Schooling won gold for Singapore with a timing of 51.04s at the Gelora Bung Karno aquatic centre in Jakarta, setting a new Games record.