Hwang Sun-woo (20-Gangwon Provincial Government) wasn’t the only South Korean competing in the men’s 200-meter freestyle final at the Fukuoka 2023 World Aquatics Championships.
Hwang Sun-woo (lane 3) and Lee Ho-joon (lane 7) (22, Daegu Metropolitan City Government) swam together in the 200-meter men’s freestyle final at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships on Friday at Fukuoka Marine Messe Fukuoka Hall in Fukuoka, Japan.
South Korean men’s swimming, which has rarely fielded two world champions in the same event, made history by placing two swimmers in the final of the freestyle event.
This is the first time that South Korean swimmers have been in the finals of not only the freestyle, but all of the executive individual events at the same time.
A total of 72 swimmers competed in the men’s 200-meter freestyle at the Fukuoka Games. Of the eight finalists, two were Korean.
Unlike in the past, when Park Tae-hwan was the lone figurehead of Korean swimming’s men’s management program, Hwang Sun-woo and the Golden Generation are building a renaissance for the sport.
In the men’s 200-meter freestyle final at the 2023 World Championships, Hwang set a new South Korean record of 1:44.42 to win bronze.
Lee Ho-joon failed to win a medal, but made his first career final, finishing sixth in 1:46.04.
Signs of the “Fukuoka Leap” began to emerge at domestic level.
In the men’s 200-meter freestyle at the 2023 Korea Management Team Trials in March this year, Hwang Sun-woo (1:45.36), Lee Ho-joon (1:45.70) and Kim Woo-min (1:46.10-Gangwon Provincial Office) all broke the International Swimming Federation A record (1:47.06).
This year was the first time that three South Korean swimmers broke the International Swimming Federation A record in the freestyle.
Kim was unable to compete in the 200-meter freestyle at the Fukuoka World Championships because only two swimmers from a country can compete in a single event.
Now, the Korean men’s freestyle has become internationally competitive to the point that even if he breaks the International Swimming Federation A time, he is not guaranteed a spot at the World Championships.
Despite missing out on the 200m, Kim Woo-min broke his own personal record in the 400m freestyle heats (3:44.50) and finals (3:43.92) to move into the top five in the world.
Kim, who finished sixth in 3:45.64 at Budapest last year, improved his time by 1.72 seconds in less than a year and moved up one spot to fifth on the World Championships personal best list.
After qualifying 31st in the men’s 200-meter freestyle at the 2019 Gwangju Games, and not even qualifying for an individual event at Budapest last year, Lee Ho-joon made it to the Final 8 in Fukuoka.
He kept his promise to his junior, Hwang Sun-woo, to “reach the final together,” and created a scene that will live long in the history of Korea’s swimming management world championship challenge.
Of course, Hwang is still the face of Korean swimming.
Hwang has won back-to-back World Championship medals, a feat not even Park Tae-hwan has accomplished.
After finishing second in the men’s 200-meter freestyle in Budapest last year, Hwang won a bronze medal in Fukuoka. His time was 0.05 seconds faster than in Budapest (1:44.47).
Park Tae-hwan won gold in the 400-meter freestyle and bronze in the 200-meter freestyle at the 2007 Melbourne Games in Australia. However, he only won a bronze medal at the 2009 Games in Rome, Italy. Park returned to the top of the 400-meter freestyle standings in Shanghai in 2011.
Hwang Sun-woo won back-to-back podiums at the World Championships, which were held for the second consecutive year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With Lee Ho-joon and Kim Woo-min in the mix, Korean swimming is looking to win a “team” world championship medal, something Hwang cannot accomplish on his own.
Last year in Budapest, the Korean men’s swimming team reached the World Championships final in the 800-meter freestyle relay for the first time ever, finishing sixth in a national record time of 7:06.93.
At the Fukuoka Games on Aug. 28, the 800-meter freestyle relay team will aim to win a medal.
“If you look at the individual times of the Korean relay members and the Chinese 200-meter freestyle, we are about 1.5 seconds behind the total of the four,” Hwang said, adding, “If we can cut 0.5 seconds per swimmer, we can win gold in Hangzhou.”
Even if the team fails to win a medal at the World Championships, the prospect of an Asian Games gold medal is enough to keep them motivated.
“Right now, I’m training with my 800-meter freestyle relay teammates in a good atmosphere,” Kim said. If this atmosphere continues and we rely on each other, we will be able to achieve our goals such as gold at the Asian Games.”
“When we first heard that Korea Swimming was aiming for gold in the 800-meter freestyle relay, the athletes weren’t sure,” said Lee Ho-joon, “but as we improved as individuals and grew together as a team, it became possible. “It’s true that the Chinese swimmers are doing well, but things happen in sports,” he said, adding that they are aiming for gold at the Asian Games.
The emergence of the golden generation is also a motivator for individual growth.
In the 200-meter freestyle preliminaries, Lee Ho-joon swam a better time than Hwang Sun-woo. This means that there are other swimmers in Korea who can inspire him.
Naturally, Lee Ho-joon looked at Hwang and increased his speed.
Hwang Sun-woo and Lee Ho-joon were the only two Asian swimmers to reach the 200-meter freestyle final at the Games.
At the Hangzhou Asian Games, it could be a delightful scene to see Hwang and Lee compete for gold and silver medals. 토토사이트