Hwang fails to reach finals in 100-meter freestyle races
Hwang Sun-woo's hopes of taking home more medals at the FINA World Championships in Budapest fell flat this week, with the Korean swimmer failing to reach the final in both the men's 100-meter freestyle and the men's 4x100 meter freestyle relay.
Hwang finished 11th out of 16 swimmers in the men’s 100-meter semifinals on Tuesday with a time of 48.08 seconds, with just the top seven swimmers advancing to the final.
Hwang was able to advance to the 16-men semifinal despite finishing 17th out of 99 swimmers in the heat stage with second-placed Caeleb Dressel of the United States and Zac Incerti of Australia, who was tied in 17th place with Hwang, withdrawing from the race.
Hwang had finished fourth out of nine swimmers in group nine with a time of 48.61 seconds to be placed in overall 17th position tied with Incerti, 0.1 second behind Alessandro Miressi of Italy who was placed in 16th place.
Hwang and Incerti would have had to compete in a swim-off to determine who would advance to the semifinals instead of Dressel.
At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Hwang become the first Korean swimmer to reach a men's 100-meter final on the big stage.
Not only did Hwang reach the finals, he finished fifth in the 100-meter freestyle, the best finish by an Asian swimmer since 1952.
He also made a name for himself recording a personal best and Asian record of 47.56 seconds in the Tokyo Olympics semifinals.
In Budapest on Wednesday, Team Korea, consisting of Hwang, Lee Yoo-yeon, Kim Ji-hun and Kim Min-joon, finished 12th out of 17 teams with a time of three minutes 15.68 seconds, 4.88 seconds behind the top-placed United States in the heats race. Only the top eight teams advanced to the final race.
Hwang on Monday won a world championship silver medal in the men's 200-meter freestyle, marking Korea's first podium finish in 11 years.
Hwang set a new Korean record and a personal best of 1:44.47 for the 200-meter race, claiming silver 1.26 seconds behind David Popovici of Romania. Popovici swam a new world junior record of 1:43.21 to take gold.
Hwang’s medal marks the first time in 11 years that a Korean swimmer has won a medal at the FINA World Championships. The last time a Korean swimmer finished on the podium was in 2011, when Park Tae-hwan took gold.
Hwang’s silver in the men’s 200 meters is the best finish that Korea has ever had in the discipline, bettering Park’s bronze medal won in 2007.
Hwang and Park are the only two Koreans to have reached the World Championships podium. They are also among the four Asians to win a medal at the World Championships. Park has a total of three World Championship medals to his name — a men’s 400-meter freestyle gold and men’s 200-meter freestyle bronze in 2007 and a men’s 400-meter freestyle gold in 2011.
For 19-year-old Hwang, this marks his first-ever World Championship medal though he does have four international medals — one World Swimming Championship gold medal in the men’s 200-meter freestyle won in December 2021 in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, one Swimming World Cup gold medal in the men’s 200-meter freestyle won in Doha, Qatar and two bronze medals in the men’s 100-meter and men’s 100-meter medley at the same event.
The FINA World Championships will run through July 3.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [email@example.com]