National records not enough to make finalsThis is the state of swimming in Korea: National records aren’t good enough to send swimmers past the preliminaries at the World Championships.
Yang Jae-hoon broke a four-year-old national record in the men’s 50 meter freestyle at the FINA World Aquatics Championships, with a time of 22.26 in the heats. The previous mark of 22.32 was set by Yang Jung-doo in 2015.
Wu Chun-Feng of Chinese Taipei and Yu Hexin of China tied for 16th at 22.21, and in a swim-off to break the tie, Yu won it in 22.08.
Yang said having already raced at a World Championship before, in Budapest in 2017, helped him stay calm and relaxed before his preliminary.
“I wasn’t nervous. I am happy that I broke the national record,” he said.
Yang said the development of Japanese swimmers has been a source of motivation for him and added: “I wanted to finish ahead of Japanese swimmers today. I’ll try to beat them at the Tokyo Olympics next year.”
Shinri Shioura of Japan ranked fifth in the 50 meter free heat in 21.78.
In the men’s 4X200m freestyle relay, Korea broke the national record by 0.21 second with 7:15.05. But the team of Lee Ho-joon, Jang Dong-hyeok, Lee Yoo-yeon and Hwang Sun-woo still ranked just 18th among 22 teams. They missed the final and also failed to grab a ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, awarded to the top 12 teams here.
Lee Ho-joon, who held the previous record set at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, said it was encouraging to see the relay team break records in consecutive years.
“Though we’re disappointed that we didn’t qualify for the Olympics, we saw hope for a better future,” Lee said. “The Asian Games and the World Championships are completely different animals, and we still managed to improve the record by more than 0.2 second. With better training, we should have even better times.”
Sun Yang competed in the relay heat for China, after winning gold medals in the 400 meters and 200 meter free and finishing sixth in the 800 meter free earlier.
In other races Friday, Im Da-sol ranked 20th in the women’s 200 meter backstroke heats in 2:11.33, 0.25 behind Jessica Fullalove of Britain for 16th place.
Regan Smith of the United States won the preliminary with the world junior record time of 2:06.01, and Katinka Hosszu of Hungary, who won bronze in 2015 and silver in 2017, ranked second, 2.33 seconds behind.
Yun Seok-hwan finished 34th among 77 swimmers in the men’s 100 meter butterfly preliminary with 53.64.
American Caeleb Dressel won two preliminaries in a span of about an hour, the men’s 100 meter fly followed by the 50 meter free. He’s the defending champion in both events.
Park Ye-rin finished 24th in the women’s 50 meter butterfly heats with 26.75 seconds, just 0.43 from 16th.
Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom, two-time defending champion, led the way with 25.39 seconds.
There was also a tie for 16th in this event, with Arina Surkova of Russia and Emilie Beckmann of Denmark both touching the pad in 26.32. Surkova prevailed in the swim-off in 26.13.
In the women’s 800 meter freestyle, Han Da-kyung posted a time of 8:49.90 to rank 26th out of 40. Only the top eight advanced to Saturday’s final, led by American Leah Smith with 8:17.23.
Three-time defending champion Katie Ledecky clocked 8:17.42. She’s still looking for her first gold medal here.
This is Day six of swimming races in Gwangju, and four Koreans have gone as deep as the semifinals. Only one, Kim Seo-yeong in the women’s 200 meter individual medley, has been to the final.