Last week we reported how world champion Hwang Sunwoo was headed to Australia along with his fellow 4x200m freestyle relay mates Lee Ho-jun, Kim Woomin and Yang Jaehoon.
The foursome is currently stationed at Miami under the watchful eye of storied Aussie coach Richard Scarce, with the primary aim being that of arming the 800m free relay with the training, skills and fortitude needed to potentially make history at this year’s Asian Games.
Postponed from 2021, the Asian Games are now set for this September, which gives Korea a solid block of preparation work ahead. Although individual medals are potentially in the mix for the nation, Korea is specifically eyeing its first-ever gold in the men’s 4x200m free relay.
The best men’s 4x200m freestyle relay result achieved by the nation was represented by a silver medal captured in 1994.
However, the relay is on the rise, making recent strides on the elite international stage. The team captured a 6th place finish at the 2022 World Championships in Budapest and 4th place at the 2022 Short Course World Championships, setting new national standards over each course.
The LCM national record with splits stands as follows:
– Hwang Sunwoo – 1:45.30
– Kim Woomin – 1:46.57
– Lee Yoo-yeon – 1:48.28
– Lee Ho-joon – 1:46.78
At the 2018 Asian Games, which marks the last edition of the typically-quadrennial competition, Japan topped the men’s 4x200m free podium in a collective time of 7:05.17. Swimmers on the gold medal-winning relay included Naito Ehara (1:47.31), Reo Sakata (1:46.51), Kosuke Hagino (1:46.50) and Katsuhiro Matsumoto (1:44.85).
China (7:05.45) and Singapore (7:14.15) rounded out the remaining spots on the podium while Korea settled for 4th place in a time of 7:15.26.
As time has passed, there have been changeups among the swimmers on the top 3 squads from 2018. Japan’s Hagino has since retired, for instance, while Singapore’s Joseph Schooling has hinted at life after swimming.
Plus, that 2018 Korean squad was void of its big gun Hwang, the man who snagged silver in the individual 200m free event at last year’s World Championships. His time of 1:44.47 established a new national record and rendered the teen the 12th fastest performer in history.
But China’s pride in hosting the Asian Games runs deep and will attempt to block Korea’s attempt, and any other nation’s for that matter, at relay gold. Look for the likes of Pan Zhanle and unofficial SCM 200m fly World Junior Record holder Chen Juner to fall among the foursome selected to represent China in its own quest for 800m free relay glory at the Asian Games.
We’ll get to see the Asian nations’ best 4x200m free relay lineups ahead of the Asian Games with this year’s World Championships in Fukuoka in July. That will give us insight into potentially who we may wind up seeing on the podium in Hangzhou just 2 months later.
They’re already a 7:05 just with Sunwoo’s flat start time. If Yoo-yeon Lee can just get to the 1:46s, they’re going to start challenging podiums at bigger meets than the Asian Games.
Are they really based in Brisbane? Because Richard Scarce is head coach of Miami which is on the Gold Coast.