Hwang Sun-woo qualifies for 200m freestyle final at World Aquatics Championships on 25 May
안전놀이터He finished alongside team-mate Lee Ho-joon… a first for Korean swimming.
Silver medal at last year’s event… back in contention for gold with PopovicFukuoka, Japan – Korean swimming is on a roll. Kim Woo-min (Gangwon Province) reached his second consecutive World Aquatics Championships final in the executive men’s 400m freestyle and confirmed that he is unbeatable, at least in Asia. In the men’s 200m freestyle, Hwang Sun-woo (Gangwon Province) and Lee Ho-joon (Daegu Metropolitan City) became the first Korean swimmers ever to reach the final of a World Championships management event together.

All eyes will now be on the Korean swimmer.

Hwang will attempt to achieve what even ‘Marine Boy’ Park Tae-hwan couldn’t when he competes in the men’s 200m freestyle final at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships at Fukuoka Marine Messe Fukuoka Hall in Fukuoka, Japan, on 25 August at 8.02pm.

Hwang finished first in his heat and third overall with a time of 1:45.07 in the semi-finals of the event on the afternoon of the 24th to book his ticket to the final, which is reserved for the top eight swimmers.

Hwang, who won silver in this event at last year’s Budapest Games, will become the first South Korean athlete to win back-to-back medals in the long course (50m) management event at the World Championships if he finishes on the podium.

Park Tae-hwan, a long-standing fixture of Korean swimming, also failed to win back-to-back medals in his prime.

Park won gold in the 400m freestyle and bronze in the 200m freestyle at Melbourne, Australia, in 2007 and gold in the 400m freestyle at Shanghai, China, in 2011. However, he failed to reach the final of any event in Rome, Italy, in 2009.

Hwang is one of the favourites to win the event. In a preview of the 200m freestyle, US swimming publication Swimswim predicted Hwang to win silver behind Romanian sensation David Popovic.

Hwang narrowly missed out on a place in the semi-finals after a poor pace in the preliminaries, finishing joint 13th out of the top 16 swimmers. In the semi-finals, however, she dominated from the start and blew away the competition.

Hwang’s best time of the season is 1:44.61, which is good enough for No. 1 in the world. His personal best is 1:44.47, set in Budapest last year, and he is determined to break into the 1:43s at this meet and be in contention for a medal.

The strongest favourite is Popovic, who beat Hwang in Budapest.

David Popovic of Romania. Yonhap News Agency

Popovic has been struggling to make an impact this season, but he showed his form in the semi-finals of the event, finishing first overall in 1:44.70. His personal best is 1:42.97 from last year’s European Championships.

Great Britain’s Tom Dean will also be a contender to watch. Dean, who finished fourth in the semi-final (1:45.29), won bronze in Budapest behind Hwang Sun-woo in third place and was the gold medallist in this event at Tokyo 2020.

USA’s Luke Hobson, who finished second in the semi-finals with a personal best of 1:44.87, and Great Britain’s Matthew Richards, who has broken 1:44 on one occasion this season, are other dark horses. Meanwhile, Chinese favourite Fan Zhanle finished 10th (1:46.05) and failed to qualify for the final.

We’ll also be looking to see how Lee Ho-joon performs. Lee touched the touchpad in 1:45.93 in the semi-final to finish sixth overall and will race alongside Hwang Sun-woo in the final. This is the first time in Korean swimming history that two athletes have reached the final of a business event side by side.

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