NEW CLARK CITY -- Filipinos sure know how to make visitors feel at home as Singaporean swimmer Joseph Schooling found out when he was welcomed by the local crowd at the Aquatics Center here with loud cheers and applause as he entered the pool area for the men's 4x200 meter freestyle relay on Wednesday.
Schooling, a 23-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist and the 2016 Rio Olympic champion, had nothing but praise for the Filipinos for their energy and support even to foreign athletes.
"[It was] awesome. It's amazing, so much energy for relay. I'm excited to see how everyone gets up for tomorrow and the rest of the tournament," Schooling told media after winning his 24th gold in the SEA Games and first in the Philippines.
"We are very happy to come in the Philippines to swim. It's a beautiful pool. The crowd is amazing. Very fun to be able to race here for the first time."
Schooling, who rose to fame after gifting Singapore its first-ever Olympic gold and beating his idol Michael Phelps, has five more events in the competition before he prepares for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
"The goal is always to qualify for the Olympics," said Schooling, whose nanny is a Filipina.
Asked about his Cagayan-native househelper, the swimmer said she wanted to come as well but stayed home to take care of Schooling's father.
"I wish she was here to watch me swim today but she has to stay home and be with my dad. I know she's watching on TV," he revealed.
After SEA Games, Schooling will head back home but hinted at visiting the Philippines after the Olympics.
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