Korea struggles to make a mark on Monday
No Korean made it out of the heats in swimming at the FINA World Championships on Monday. A day earlier, only Kim Seo-yeong survived the heats, en route to reaching the final in the women’s 200 meter individual medley.
On Monday, national record holder Im Da-sol ended in 18th place in the women’s 100 meter backstroke heats at Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center in Gwangju. Only the top 16 from the heats qualified for the semifinals, and with a time of 1:00.86, Im finished 0.2 second behind Daria Vaskina of Russia for 16th.
Im’s national record in the 100 meter backstroke is 1:00.44.
Im said she will now shift her focus to the 200 meter backstroke, where she also holds the national record time of 2:09.49. Heats for that event are scheduled for Friday.
“It was such a whirlwind to get my first race in,” Im said. “Now that I’ve gotten my bearings, I’ll try to live up to people’s expectations.”
Canadian Kylie Masse, the 2017 world champion, closed in on her title defense by winning the heats in 58.91 seconds.
On the men’s side, the men’s 100 meter backstroke national record holder Lee Ju-ho stumbled to 25th place in the heats for that event, failing to reach the semifinals for the top 16.
Lee clocked 54.56, well off his Korean record of 54.17.
Lee, too, said his main event will be the 200 meter backstroke, in which he owns the national record time of 1:57.67.
“My goal is to break my own national record,” Lee said. “I think that should be enough to get me to the semifinals.”
Defending champion Xu Jiayu of China had the fastest time in the heats with 52.85.
In the men’s 200 meter freestyle, Lee Ho-joon was well out of the semifinals in 31st place, with a time of 1:48.89.
James Guy of Britain, the 2015 world champion, and Sun Yang of China, who won the 2017 title, ranked 1-2 in the heats. Sun will try to add to the 400 meter freestyle title he claimed Sunday.
Lee raced in the same group as Sun, after doing so in the 400 meter freestyle heats the previous day. Lee said he was able to learn from that experience.
“I’ve identified what I have to do to get better, but the important thing is to put in the work to address those issues,” Lee said. “I want to keep getting better and better after this competition.”
In the women’s 100 meter breaststroke heats, Back Su-yeon finished 21st in 1:08.52. Lilly King of the United States and Yuliya Efimova of Russia, the last two world champions, ranked first and second in the heats.
The day’s final preliminary races came in the women’s 1,500 meter, where Han Da-kyung placed 22nd to miss Tuesday’s final, with a time of 16:49.13. It was well shy of her national record of 16:32.65.
Katie Ledecky of the United States, world record holder and three-time defending champion, won the heats with 15:48.90.
Ledecky is coming off a shocking loss in the 400 meter freestyle on Sunday.