South Korean swimming is at its peak…Olympic relay medal dreams fade away
It’s no exaggeration to say that Korean swimming is having a “second coming” these days.
If Park Tae-hwan’s gold medal at the last Olympics was the achievement of a “single genius,” now Hwang Sun-woo, Kim Woo-min (Gangwon-do) and Lee Ho-joon (Daegu Metropolitan City) are battling it out in the 200-meter freestyle.
The men’s 200-meter freestyle final at the 2024 Swimming (Management) National Team Trials held at Gimcheon Indoor Pool in Gimcheon City, Gyeongsangbuk-do, on July 27 was a great opportunity to see where Korean swimming stands today.
The competition was fierce, even if the times were a bit low due to the fatigue of the athletes who competed in back-to-back events.
Hwang Sun-woo took first place in 1:45.68, followed by Kim Woo-min in 1:46.06 and Lee Ho-joon in 1:46.07.
The three swimmers broke the International Swimming Federation A record (1:47.06) after the national team trials in March this year.
Korean middle and long-distance standout Kim Woo-min also beat Lee in the 200-meter freestyle.
Lee made the final of the 200-meter freestyle at the Fukuoka World Aquatics Championships in July, where he and Hwang Sun-woo finished sixth against some of the world’s best swimmers.
If an event has multiple swimmers with A times, only the top two qualify for the World Championships.
It was the kind of scene you’d expect to see in a swimming powerhouse like South Korea, where a swimmer in the final of the World Championships is eliminated from the domestic trials.
“Now I feel that I have to concentrate hard and not let go of any tension in the 200-meter freestyle,” Hwang said after the race.
The 200-meter freestyle final not only determined who will compete in the 200-meter freestyle at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar, next February, but also the 800-meter freestyle relay team.
Fourth-place Lee Yoo-yeon (Goyang City Hall) won in 1:48.04, beating out fifth-place Yang Jae-hoon (Gangwon Provincial Office – 1:50.70) to become the new 800-meter freestyle relay swimmer.
“It’s an honor to be back on the national team,” said Lee, who was selected for the relay after a two-year absence. I’ve been training with Kim Woo-min and Hwang Sun-woo, and I think I’ve gotten better without realizing it. If we continue to train and compete together, I think we can break the current Asian record (7:01.73) and break into the top six,” said Lee.
Thanks to the emergence of a number of strong swimmers in the 200-meter freestyle, Korean swimming has also reached its peak in the men’s 800-meter freestyle relay.
At last year’s World Championships in Budapest, Korea reached its first-ever medley relay final, and again in Fukuoka this year, finishing sixth.
Their Asian record of 7:01.73, set when they won gold at the Hangzhou Asian Games, was good for third place at the Fukuoka World Championships.
The dream of an Olympic medal has begun to grow in the hearts of the athletes in the relay.
Kim Woo-min said, “We can definitely get into the top six in the 800-meter freestyle relay at the Paris Olympics. Each athlete’s individual performance is improving, so it is possible,” said Kim Woo-min. “If we get into the six-minute range, I think we can aim for the dream moment of an Olympic medal.” 토토사이트