Men’s 400m freestyle 3 minutes 42.71 seconds
Beats personal best record by 1 second and 21 seconds
Early sprint strategy shines
Meaning of being number 1, surpassing world-class powerhouses
Hopes for medals at the Paris Olympics rise
Korea, 3 medals… Highest record ever
Kim Woo-min (23), the star of Korean freestyle swimming in the middle and long distances, is leading the renaissance of Korean swimming along with Hwang Seon-woo (21, Gangwon Provincial Office), who is called a ‘swimming genius.’ Kim Woo-min, whose main event is the 400m freestyle, ranked 6th in the finals of the Budapest World Championships in June 2022, and then showed progress to 5th place at the Fukuoka World Championships held in July 2023 a year later.
Kim Woo-min proved that he is the best in Asia at the Hangzhou Asian Games held in October last year. He won gold medals in the 800m relay, 800m freestyle, and 400m freestyle with Hwang Sun-woo, Yang Jae-hoon (26, Gangwon Provincial Office), and Lee Ho-jun (23, Jeju Provincial Office), making him the first swimmer to win three gold medals in 13 years since Park Tae-hwan in Guangzhou in 2010.
Kim Woo-min once again summoned the name of ‘Marine Boy’ Park Tae-hwan. This time, not in Asia, but on the world stage. Kim Woo-min won the gold medal with a time of 3 minutes 42.71 seconds in the men’s 400m freestyle final at the 2024 International Federation of Aquatics (FINA) Doha World Championships held at the Aspire Dome in Doha, Qatar on the 12th. Although he failed to break Park Tae-hwan’s Korean record of 3 minutes 41.53 seconds, he beat his own best record (3 minutes 43.92 seconds) by a whopping 1.21 seconds. Elijah Winnington (23, Australia) took second place with 3 minutes 42.86 seconds, 0.15 seconds behind, and Lucas Martens (22, Germany) took third place with 3 minutes 42.96 seconds.
Before Kim Woo-min, Park Tae-hwan was the only Korean athlete to win a gold medal at the World Aquatics Championships. Tae-Hwan Park won the men’s 400m freestyle gold medal in Melbourne in 2007 and Shanghai in 2011. Thanks to Kim Woo-min, Korean swimming has produced a world championship gold medalist for the first time in 13 years.
Kim Woo-min’s early sprint strategy worked for his gold medal. Kim Woo-min, who took second place in the 50m race, later rose to first place and dominated the race, maintaining the world record pace until the 300m mark. Although his speed dropped to 28.78 seconds in the 300-350 section and 27.89 seconds in the last 50 section, he widened the gap early on and overtook his pursuers. Winnington, the champion in this event at the Budapest World Championships two years ago, ran the last 50 meters in 26.67 seconds, but it was not enough to overcome the gap between him and Kim Woo-min.
Kim Woo-min trained hard for four weeks with relay members in Australia just before this competition. The training focused more on the Paris Olympics in July than on this competition. Even though the fatigue from intense training had not completely disappeared, he won the gold medal in this competition, further increasing his chances of winning a medal in Paris.
In addition, many world-class stars did not participate in the Doha World Championships due to preparations for the Paris Olympics, but in the men’s 400m freestyle, all athletes except Samuel Short (Australia), who won the gold medal among the first to fourth places at the Fukuoka Games last year, participated. Kim Woo-min’s gold medal is said to be very meaningful as he was able to overcome the world’s strongest players and stand at the top of the podium.
Kim Woo-min said, “I didn’t expect to win. “I thought this competition was a process of preparing for the Paris Olympics,” he said. “I wasn’t in the best condition, but I feel good about getting a good record.” “I expect that this result will have a positive impact on the Paris Olympics.”
Meanwhile, Korean swimming has already won three medals at the Doha Games, setting a new record for the most medals ever at a World Championships. Previously, in this diving competition, Kim Su-ji (25, Ulsan Metropolitan City Hall) won a bronze medal in the women’s 3 springboard and Lee Jae-kyung (24, Incheon Metropolitan City) won a bronze medal in the mixed sink 3 springboard.
The previous record for the most medals won by Korean swimming at a single world championship was two, set at the 2007 Melbourne Games, where Park Tae-hwan ranked first in the men’s 400 freestyle and third in the 200 freestyle.
Reporter Nam Jeong-hoon [email protected]
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