Tae Hwan Park Headed to Australia to Train After Fan-Fundraising

South Korean swimming superstar Tae Hwan Park is headed to Australia for a three-month training camp ahead of the National Sports Festival in Incheon.

According to South Korean newspaper Arirang, however, it is not the federation, prize money, or even his sponsors who will send him and four of his countrymates to the St. Peter’s Western Swim Club to train under the legendary Michael Bohl. It will instead be his fans, who combined to donate 70,000,000 South Korean Won, or roughly $60,000 US Dollars ($54,000 Australian Dollars), to pay for the trip.

Park, who is a sporting icon in his native country, is skipping this summer’s World Championships in Barcelona, meaning that he will not be able to defend his world title in the 400 free. His stardom is huge in his native country, yet he has still been forced to spend his own money to support his training, and he reached out to his fans to help him continue to move forward in the sport (at 23 years old). He’s the most successful South Korean swimmer in history now with four Olympic medals (1 gold, three silver) to his name.

This is not the first swimmer who we’ve seen have great success with this crowd-funding strategy. American swimmer Anthony Ervin, in the fall, raised $10,000 via an Indiegogo fundraiser to pay for his travel on the FINA World Cup circuit.

Swimmers often have huge brand power in their local swimming communities, but for one reason or another (we could fill a whole post with reasons why), they are unable to use traditional middle-men (federations, meets, sponsors) to turn that brand power into real dollars.

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Good for Park!

Is donation considered “commercial”?

Can swimmers like Missy Franklin use the same strategy to raise money and still be considered “amateur” by NCAA rules?


He’s a remarkable talent, even if you disregard his circumstances. If you don’t, he’s nothing short of a freak of nature. In the past year or so he has swum a high 48 second 100m, a high 1:44 200m, a 3:42 low 400m, and a sub 14:50 1500m. This is coming from a guy who’s country’s swimming pedigree is comparatively very weak, and is “just” 6′ (183 cm), a midget in the swimming world. For reference, the only guys capable of beating him at his best races are Agnel at 6’8″ (202 cm) and Yang at 6’6″ (198 cm). I’d forgotten he’s only 23, I remember seeing him all the way back at the 2004 Olympics. Hopefully he will experience… Read more »


the only recent man with such a breadth of events is ian thorpe

i was amazed how young he it too. he still could have another Olympics and some more medals in 2016 or possibly 2020


I also like Park. His smooth and balanced technique is nice to watch. Let’s hope his legacy means the increased popularity of swimming among kids and South Koreans as spectators. I hope he can return to constant and regular training. His absence from the most important meeting of the year is a sad thing. Park, how about a bit world cup?

South Korea has an excellent chance to get the 2019 FINA World Championships as candidate cities consists of Guangzhou (China), Gwangju (South Korea), Tokyo (Japan), Budapest (Hungary). China had it already in 2011. If Gwangju will be awarded, it’s also a tribute to Park Tae Hwan.


If Gwangju wins, I hope it will be much much better than the 2011 Track&Field World Championships that South Korea hosted in Daegu.

Yes, it was well-organised, but for people of Daegu, athletics did not hold their interest, leading to poor attendance and empty seats in the stadium that forced the organizer to bus in school children. The stadium was even almost half-empty during the men 100 m final!
Not to mention it was among the slowest or weakest major T&F championships, due to headwind etc.

They have Park tae-hwan though, so may be an aquatic world championships will be different.


I agree with you. But I still believe awarding the important meetings to new countries is a good way to promote a particular sport in those countries. One problem with Daegu was probably the fact they had no own athletes with chances to success and South Korea has no traditions of athletics. It would be the best if we had a way to award meetings to “new” countries at the moment they have own newly-born stars in order to maximize the promoting effect. There is no guarantee Park is around in 2019. From this point of view South Korea would have needed the meeting much earlier unless new stars are emerging. But we mustn’t neglect swimming powerhouses either. Maybe the… Read more »


Not only World Aquatic Championships, but USA has also never hosted Track&Field World Championships!!!!!!

It is just ridiculous that US government does not want to spend a dime hosting at least one of those championships.


The last thing swimming wants is the involvement of the US governmebnt. In 1976 in the meetings at Senator Stone’s offices discussing the need for sports to be independent in their governing and progress was not having the government involved especially money. You are at the mercy of other people and their changing minds and not being swimming people. That is the base of the US in sports that the people who care are the ones making the decisions. Just look at the rest of the world and how decisions are made financially with changing times and not fielding full teams. We don’t need a World Championship meet for the sport in the US and what the requirements from FINA… Read more »


If all countries have the same attitude as the US, there would not have been any world championships, aquatic or athletic.

Thank god that other countries are willing to pay.


I didn’t remember USA hasn’t hosted the IAAF meeting either. Helsinki has done it twice. 🙂 The games usually fund themselves. Even the 2005 IAAF Words in Helsinki made a profit of 386 290 euros.

Just file your bids for the 2021 or 2023 FINA and IAAF games.


The games usually fund themselves, but there has to be seed money for bidding etc, and tax breaks and government guarantee if the finances go to red.

And this is something that no city/state government in the USA is willing to take, with the exception of the olympics and FIFA world cup, but that is something a lot to do with politics.

C Martin

Yes, from those cities I could see Gwangju in the running. China just hosted Worlds in 2011, and Tokyo might have the Olympics in 2020. The only other city left is Budapest and I can’t see them hosting, but then again the only thing I know relating to Hungary is Zsuzsanna Jakabos.


hungary has rich and long history in aquatic sports, and Budapest held European aquatic championships few times, so they should be good at it.

The drawback against Budapest is that a european city is hosting worlds this year and Kazan is hosting in 2015, so 2019 is probably too soon for another european city.

I think it’s between Gwangju and Tokyo.



Aquatic sports draws large audiences in Hungary. On all-time medal table for FINA Aquatic World Championships Hungary is at eight position, e.g. easily ahead of France, Netherlands and Great Britain. Their achievements in aquatics is just great.

FINA surely waits the outcome of Tokyo’s Olympic bid before awarding the 2019. I just cannot decide the effect of it on the FINA’s decision. On the one hand FINA’s meeting would serve as an excellent pre-olympic test, but on the other, it would be too much big swimming in one country in too short period of time.


I was going to add exactly the same thing you wrote about Tokyo bid.

We just don’t know what effect will Tokyo’s successful olympics bid have on the FINA world champs bid. Could be a positive boost or negative impact.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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