2018 KOREAN NATIONALS
Heading into the recently-concluded 2018 Korean Nationals, Olympian Park Tae Hwan told the press that he wasn’t near peak form as of yet in his bid to make his 4th Asian Games roster.
“Since I got a late start, I should work that much harder for the Asian Games,” he told reporters at Incheon International Airport last week. “I am not getting any younger, and I’ve been trying hard to improve my conditioning and stamina. I’d like to prove that I am still a competitive swimmer this year.”
As such, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist in the 400m freestyle still swept his 4 individual events in Gwangju, the site of the 2019 World Championships, albeit in non-eye-popping efforts. In the men’s 100m free, Park’s weakest of the freestyle events, the 28-year-old clocked a winning time of 49.27. That’s a solid time for the man who has only been under the 49-second threshold 6 times in his career, including most recently in Atlanta with his 48.62 at last year’s Pro Swim.
In the 200m free in Gwangju, Park produced a very respectable 1:46.63 to win by almost 2 solid seconds ahead of the rest of the pack. That mark falls within half a second of 2017 fastest time of 1:46.28 and positions the Incheon Metropolitan City swimmer just outside the world’s top 10 this season.
A time of 3:46.50 clinched the 400m freestyle title for Park, while his mark of 15:14.99 captured the 1500m title to give him is 4th gold over the span of the meet. His 400m freestyle effort now checks-in as the 7th fastest this season and 2nd fastest Asian only behind world leader Sun Yang of China.
In terms of national records, both the men’s and women’s boards saw new marks entered when all was said and done in Gwangju. Kang Ji Seok took the men’s 50m backstroke in a new national record-setting time of 24.93, while Lee Ju Ho set new national standards in both the 100m and 200m backstroke events.
Lee punched a time of 54.17 for the 100m and 1:57.67 in the 200m to enter new times into the Korean swimming books.
For the women, Kim Hye Jin earned a new national mark in the 100m breaststroke, stopping the clock at 1:07.44, while Kim Seo Yeong established a new national time in the 200m IM with her winning effort of 2:08.61.
Seo Yeong’s time beats out Asian rival Yui Ohashi to take over the top spot in the world in the 200m IM event, sans Hungary’s Iron Lady Katinka Hosszu’s competing this year thus far.
Seo Yeong’s 2:08.61 clocking crushed her own pervious personal best of 2:09.86 set in the semi-finals of the 2017 World Championships. She wound up finishing 6th overall in that competition’s final (2:10.40), but her new sub-2:09 national record would have given her the bronze medal in Budapest.