Hwang Sun-woo, 20, of Gangwon Special Self-Governing Province, has set his sights on medals in the 200-meter freestyle and 800-meter freestyle relay and a final appearance in the 100-meter freestyle at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships.
“In the 200-meter freestyle, I have to get on the podium,” Hwang said in an interview at Incheon International Airport on Tuesday before departing for Fukuoka, Japan, where the World Aquatics Championships are underway. “In the 100-meter freestyle, I’m ranked ninth in the world this season, so if I make it to the final, I’ll be able to compete without any pressure and get a good result.”
He is also very motivated to compete in the 800-meter freestyle relay with his teammates.
“The morale of the four athletes (Hwang Sun-woo, Lee Ho-joon, Kim Woo-min, and Yang Jae-hoon) in the 800-meter freestyle relay is high, and the combined times of the four athletes are rated around fourth or fifth,” Hwang said, adding, “If we can get the sum right on race day, we can have a shot at a medal in the relay.”
When asked playfully by a reporter, “Which do you want more, a gold medal in the 200-meter freestyle or a bronze medal in the 800-meter freestyle relay?” he laughed and said, “I want to win both.”
Hwang won silver in the men’s 200-meter freestyle at the 2022 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, last June in 1:44.47, behind David Popovic (18-ROM) in 1:43.21.
It had been 11 years since a South Korean businessman had won a medal in the long course (50 meters) at a World Championships since Park Tae-hwan won gold in the men’s 400 meters freestyle in Shanghai, China, in 2011.
If Hwang stands on the podium in Fukuoka, he will become the first Korean swimmer to win two consecutive World Championships medals.
Park won gold in the 400-meter freestyle and bronze in the 200-meter freestyle at the 2007 Games in Melbourne, Australia. In 2009, he won a bronze medal in Rome, Italy.
Park returned to the top of the 400-meter freestyle podium in Shanghai in 2011.
Despite the milestones he’s already achieved, and his current world-leading 200-meter freestyle ranking (1:44.61), Hwang recognizes the quality of his competition.
“Popovic has incredible times in the 100 (46.86) and 200 (1:42.97) freestyle. Right now, I’m just trying to keep up,” he said, honoring the “strongest man alive.
He was also wary of China’s rising star Fan Zhanle (18), saying, “He has a good 100-meter freestyle time of 47.22 (No. 1 in 2023) and a good 200-meter time of 1:44.65.”
But for Hwang, their presence is a good motivation.
“If I improve my times, the gap between me and Popovic can be reduced. Pan Zanler’s good times have made me more focused,” he said.
Swimming is also a “battle of records.
“This year, with the World Aquatics Championships and the Hangzhou Asian Games, I want to break my 200-meter freestyle personal record (1:44.47) and 100-meter personal record (47.56),” Hwang said.
“In the 100 meters, I have yet to beat my semifinal time from Tokyo 2021. “In the 200 meters, the competition is tougher with Popovic breaking into the 1.42sec range. I need to break 1.43 to be able to compete with the best in the world. “I really want to break 1:43 this year,” he said.
Working with his teammates in the medley relay is another event Hwang is eager to compete in.
Last year in Budapest, 먹튀검증 the Korean men’s 800-meter freestyle relay team reached the World Championships final for the first time in their history, finishing sixth in a national record time of 7:06.93.
Hwang Sun-woo and the Golden Generation will be looking to add to their medal tally in Fukuoka.
The 2023 World Championships begin on the 23rd.
Hwang will swim the men’s 200m freestyle heats and semifinals on the 24th and the final on the 25th.
The men’s 100-meter freestyle will have heats and semifinals on the 26th and the final on the 27th.
Hwang’s scenario for the Fukuoka Games is to swim well in both individual events and then save the best for last in the men’s 800-meter freestyle relay preliminaries and final on the morning and afternoon of the 28th.