Korean World Championships Finalist An Sehyeon Misses Gwangju Qualification


The Korean National Trials meet wrapped up in Gimcheon Swimming Pool with the nation’s top swimmers vying for spots on the World Championships roster. This year the roster holds special significance as the World Championships are taking place in Gwangju, Korea, giving these swimmers the opportunity to race for medals in front of a home crowd.

As a refresher, though the first half of the meet, we saw 2 National Record bite the dust even without Korea’s Olympic star Park Tae Hwan in the water. Im Da-Sol rocked a winning time of 1:00.44 to clock a new lifetime best in the women’s 100m back, also shaving .03 off of the previous NR of 1:00.47 that had been on the books since 2016.

Im’s previous season-best came at the Korean National Trials #1 meet that took place in early March. At that meet at this same pool Im put up a time of 1:00.84 to take the gold. Her outing also  obliterated the 1:01.08 she produced for 5th place at last year’s Asian Games. Her performance at these championships qualifies her for this summer’s World Championships, comfortably clearing the FINA A cut of 1:00.44. she also sits just outside the top 25 performers in the world this season.

The other national record to break during the first half of the meet happened in the women’s 1500m freestyle, where Han Da-Kyung punched the wall in a monster time of 16:32.65. That took nearly 20 seconds off of her own previous personal best of 16:51.27 produced back in 2013. Han finished 6th in this event in Jakarta last year, logging a time of 16:58.57, while her time where would have garnered Han 4th place.

Han’s time fell just shy of the FINA A cut of 16:32.04 but easily dipped under the Korean Federation minimum of 16:46.22.

But Han wasn’t done, as she nailed another national record before the meet was through. Hitting the wall in 8:39.06 in the women’s 800m free for gold, Han overtook the previous NR of 8:40.79 set by Cho Hyunjo back in 2016. Han’s mark clears the Korean selection standard of 8:45.97 and gives the athlete her 2nd event for Gwangju.

Im was also back in action in another event, adding the 50m backstroke gold to her aforementioned 100m victory. Im registered a winning time of 28.63 to collect her 2nd World Championships-worthy time here at Gimcheon.

The men’s 200m freestyle saw the top 2 finishers separated by just .01, with Lee Ho-Joon winning the race in a time of 1:48.72. That was within striking distance of what Lee put up (1:48.10) for 7th place in the event at last year’s Asian Games.

Park Sujin,who trains on the same team as Olympian Kim Seoyeong, won the women’s 200m fly in a time of 2:09.26. That beat out the 2:09.44 the 20-year-old up up in Budapest back at the 2017 World Championships. With her victory here, Park’s time outperformed 23-year-old Asian Games medalist An Sehyeon, who settled for 3rd in 2:12.22. That renders An out of this event, at least on paper, for Gwangju.

Park Yelin took the women’s 100m fly in a winning effort of 58.73. Sehyeon finished 2nd in that shorter race, taking silver in 59.13, so it is unlikely that the World Championships finalist from Budapest will be able to race in front of her home crowd at this year’s edition. Although she still may be discretionarily selected.

Kim Seoyeong doubled up on her 400m IM from earlier in the meet with a solid 200m IM win in 2:10.18. Post-race the Asian Games gold medalist in this event said she had wanted to open her 200m IM in under a minute, so ‘she still has training to do’.

All told at the end of the meet, 3 individual swimmers nabbed FINA A cuts for this summer’s World Championships across 5 events. They include the following:

  • Kim Seoyeong – women’s 200m IM, 400m IM
  • Im Da-Sol – women’s 50m back, 100m back
  • Cho Sungjae – men’s 200m breast

The following swimmers earned Korean Swimming Federation selection standard times:

  • Park Yelin – women’s 50m fly, 100m fly
  • Back Su-yeon – women’s 100m, 200m breast
  • Park Sujin – women’s 200m fly
  • Han Da-Kyung – women’s 800m free, 1500m free
  • Kim Minseop – men’s 200m fly
  • Lee Ho-Joon – men’s 50m back, 100m back
  • Yang Jaehoon – men’s 50m free, 100m free
  • Kim Minsuk – men’s 200m IM, 400m IM
  • Moon Jaekwon – men’s 100m breast

The official Korean World Championships roster is expected to be released next week.

Many thanks to Jinho Lee who contributed to this report.

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About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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