COLIN AND JOSEPH SCHOOLING
An intimate conversation between father and son.
Swim cap off, journalist hat on, Olympic gold medalist Joseph Schooling interviews his father, Colin Schooling, for our feature story this month in celebration of Father’s Day. (Incidentally, June 16 is also the swimmer’s 24th birthday — perfect timing!) We take a spectator’s seat and watch through our camera lens the delightful demonstration of mutual respect and affection between father and son. Childhood memories are reminisced, heartfelt words exchanged, and funny anecdotes and laughs shared. Of course, they also talked about that very special ring that Colin designed with us (“This ring is to be a family heirloom.”) to commemorate that very special moment when Joseph made not only his childhood dream come true, but also history with a new world record at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Oh, what joy.
Colin: Okay, take it away.
Joseph: When you met me for the first time, what were some things that were going through your mind?
Colin: Oh, my mind just went blank. All those years, your mum and I were trying to conceive, it was so difficult. Mum had a few miscarriages, actually. When you came along, it was like a gift from the Good Lord. So, what did I feel? Happiness that cannot be explained or spelled out. That moment just grabbed me by the heart.
Joseph: I understand that my first word was “Dada”? How did you feel when you heard that?
Colin: My heart melted when I heard it the first time. Oh my goodness. Lucky it wasn’t “mama” first (laughs).
Joseph: Haha, or mum would have more bragging rights, huh? What were your hopes and dreams, and aspirations for me?
Colin: Just to be a happy boy, a healthy, happy boy. No aspirations. As you grew up and became a teenager, I just wanted to make sure you became an officer and a gentleman, you know? That means being well behaved, that you have credibility and good manners. How you conduct yourself, carry yourself — it’s very important, yeah?
Joseph: Yeah. So, what would you say has been the best and the most challenging parts about being a dad?
Colin: For me, it was very simple — setting a good example. My language can be atrocious, you know (laughs). I had to be very careful how I say it, where I say it. It was all about TPO — time, place and occasion.
Joseph: (Laughs) I think your vocab is spot on.
Colin: After a while, I learned to auto-adapt to TPO…
Joseph: Haha. That’s pretty good. I remember there was a time when I was a kid, mum would always, like, try to cover my ears. What were some of your fondest memories of my childhood?
Colin: After every swim meet, I’d always give you a shower. I didn’t trust you to clean yourself, to reach the places that needed to be reached (laughs). One time I was wiping your toes dry, and I said, “Oh my goodness, no wonder you can swim so fast.” You looked surprised and asked me, “Why, daddy?”, and I said, “because you have webs between your toes!” And you gave me this “Nooo, oh my goodness!” expression, haha.
“THIS RING IS TO BE A FAMILY HEIRLOOM, AND IT WILL BE IN THE SCHOOLING FAMILY FOR MANY GENERATIONS.”
— Colin Schooling
Joseph: Oh my god. That’s a great memory. I remember you said that. For me, I’d say, all those times you and mum took me to swim practice, that’s one. Another thing would be golfing with you — those were sacred moments. And I think I’ve told you this many, many times that whoever golfs with us must be very special because that is our time.
Joseph: After the Olympics, you had a ring designed and made for me with The Canary Diamond. What gave you the idea to do that and what features did you want the ring to have?
Colin: This ring is to be a family heirloom, and it will be in the Schooling family for many generations. Everything that is inscribed on the ring is for life. It represents everything I felt about the event, the Olympic record, every detail of the 100m Butterfly event is engraved onto the ring. This will be passed from generation to generation of the Schooling clan.
Joseph: I think my favourite part about this ring, besides the fact that it looks amazing, is definitely what’s inscribed on the inside (“With Love, Dad & Mum”). The first thing I always look at when I look at the ring is what’s etched inside. This ring is going to stay in the Schooling family, for sure.
You’ve helped me to realise my dream in many ways, what about your dream when you were young?
Colin: I wanted to be a fireman.
Joseph: What is the most important piece of advice you could have given me?
Colin: Just be honest. And happy. Be honest with yourself. Do not bring harm to people. We live in a world that has so much uncertainties. People are nice to you, but sometimes you don’t not know the animosity or jealousy they bear for you, which they will not show you. But never mind, as long as you live your life with a clean conscience and heart, you have nothing to fear. Like I always tell you, you cannot be responsible for other people’s opinions, huh? Whatever they think about you, they are entitled to it.
Joseph: Last question — what does success mean to you?
Colin: Oh wow. Success is being able to look at yourself in the mirror, and be comfortable with the image that you see reflected. So long as you can…
Joseph: Be happy.
Colin: Yes, see yourself and be comfortable, and be happy and satisfied that you have done no wrong to anybody. Just being happy with yourself. I think that is success.
Joseph: Okay, that’s it.
Colin: Love you, son. (Reaches over for a hug.)
Joseph: Love you.
Read the full version of this interview on WearOhWhere.com.
Photography: KARMAN TSE