Hwang Sun-woo and Lee Ho-joon become first Korean pair to reach World Championship final together
Hwang Sun-woo finishes 3rd in semifinal Lee Ho-joon 6th
Two South Korean swimmers will start side-by-side in the men’s 200m freestyle final at the 2023 International Swimming Federation World Championships on Friday.
South Korean swimming sensation Hwang Sun-woo (20, Gangwon Provincial Government) and recent sensation Lee Ho-joon (22, Daegu Metropolitan City Government) will start side-by-side in the men’s 200m freestyle final, something that has never been seen before at a World Championships.
Hwang touched the touchpad in 1:45.07 in heat 1 of the business men’s 200-meter freestyle semifinals at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships on Thursday afternoon at Fukuoka Marine Messe Fukuoka Hall in Fukuoka, Japan, to finish first in his heat and third overall out of 16 swimmers.
Lee, who raced in heat 2 of the semifinals, finished third in his heat and sixth overall in 1:45.93.
Hwang and Lee punched their tickets to the final, which is awarded to the top eight semifinalists.
According to the Korean Swimming Federation, Hwang and Lee are the first Korean swimmers to reach the final together in a management event at a World Championships.
South Korean swimming has struggled to make the world championship finals outside of its biggest stars, so to have two of them in the final is nothing short of historic.
Hwang, already the world’s top-ranked swimmer after winning silver at last year’s World Championships in Budapest, overcame the disadvantage of an unexpectedly poor preliminary round.
The South Korean swimmer, who competes in the 400m freestyle as well as the 200m freestyle, has an advantage over other swimmers in the 200m freestyle in his last spurt, which he showed off in abundance in the semifinals.
Hwang Sun-woo had to take it easy after his heat. Things didn’t go according to plan, and both his time and placing were low.
Hwang, who holds the Korean record in the 200m freestyle with a time of 1:44.47, finished fifth in his heat and 13th overall with a time of 1:46.69.
He struggled to pace himself. He had hoped to keep the other athletes at bay and make a spurt in the second half of the race, but it didn’t work out.
Hwang almost missed out on a spot in the semifinals. Only 0.01 seconds separated Hwang and Antonio Jakovic (SUI – 1:46.70), who finished 16th in his heat and qualified for the semifinals.
After finishing lower than expected in his heat, Hwang was assigned to lane 1 of heat 1 in the semifinals and had to race in relatively unfavorable conditions.
In swimming, swimmers are assigned a semifinal or final lane based on their preliminary performance. The swimmer with the best time gets lane 4, followed by lanes 5, 3, 6, 2, 7, 1, and 8.
In lanes 1 and 8, the water resistance is greater than in the other lanes due to the wake from the middle lane swimmers hitting the wall. It’s hard to keep up with the competitors racing in the center.
But Hwang, who has overcome adverse conditions before, did not falter in the semifinals.
Hwang finished eighth in the 200m freestyle preliminaries at the Short Course (25m) World Championships in Melbourne, Australia, last December.
In the final, she was lined up in lane 8 and overcame the disadvantage to win the gold medal for the second consecutive time.
In the semifinals, Hwang raced close to the lane to minimize the impact of the current.
Rather than trying to hold off other athletes, he focused on taking an early lead and racing at his own pace.
Hwang entered the water with a 0.63-second reaction time, the fastest of the eight swimmers racing in Heat 1, and never relinquished the top spot.
After taking the lead at the 50m mark in 23.93 seconds, Hwang passed the 100m mark in 50.28 seconds, the fastest time in the field, and maintained the lead through the 150m mark in 1:17.75.
By the 150-meter mark, the gap to the rest of the field was considerable, and Hwang was able to swim with some ease to finish the race.
Unlike in the preliminaries, Hwang didn’t lose his pace, and he looked at the broadcast cameras with a big smile on his face as he realized that he had made it to the final.
While Hwang set the pace early on, Lee’s late spurt shone through.
Unlike Hwang, whose main events are the 100m and 200m freestyle, Lee’s main events are the 200m and 400m freestyle. In the 200-meter freestyle, Lee’s strength lies in his late spurt, rather than the early part of the race.
Park Tae-hwan, who won world and Olympic gold medals in the 400m freestyle, also relies on his late spurt in the 200m freestyle.
In today’s semifinal, Lee played to his strengths.
At the 100m mark, Lee was in seventh place with a time of 51.76 seconds. However, he gradually picked up the pace and moved up to fifth place between 100 and 150 meters.
In the final 50 meters, he increased his spurt. As the rest of the field slowed down, Lee pushed on and was the third swimmer in his group to touch the touchpad, finishing sixth overall.
Hwang, who won silver at last year’s World Championships in Budapest, will look to become the first Korean swimmer to win back-to-back World Championships medals in the final.
He will also be looking to become the second South Korean to win gold in the 400m freestyle after Park Tae-hwan, who won the event in Melbourne in 2007 and Shanghai in 2011.
This will be the first time Lee has even qualified for an individual event at a World Championships. At his first World Championships, in Gwangju in 2019, 스포츠토토 Lee competed in the 200m and 400m freestyle events and failed to qualify in either event, and at Budapest last year, he swam only the 800m freestyle relay.
The men’s 200m freestyle final will take place on Friday at 8.02pm.