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Korean swimming records fall at world championship

Aug 03,2017
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From left, Park Tae-hwan, Kim Seo-young and An Se-hyeon speak to reporters at Incheon International Airport on Tuesday, after arriving from Budapest, Hungary. [YONHAP]
Three Korean swimmers, Park Tae-hwan, An Se-hyeon and Kim Seo-young, returned to Korea on Tuesday after competing in the FINA World Championship at the Danube Arena in Budapest, Hungary. Though none of the swimmers were able to win a medal, Kim and An both turned in impressive performances.

In the women’s 100-meter butterfly, An set a new Korean record with a time of 57.07 in the final race to finish fifth. Though An finished 0.7 seconds short of the podium, it was an impressive performance as she broke the previous record of 57.15 which she had set a day earlier in the semifinal.

In the 200-meter butterfly An finished in fourth place with a time of 2:06.67, the best result in Korean women’s swimming history. Prior to An, Lee Nam-eun’s eighth-place finish in the women’s 50 meter backstroke at the 2005 World Championship in Montreal was the best.

“My goal at the world championships was to make the finals, and after finishing in fourth and fifth place, my dream is getting a little bit bigger,” An was quoted as saying on Yonhap News Agency. “We have the Asian Games coming up next year, and I’d like to win a medal in every race that I enter. And depending on my times there, I’ll readjust my goals accordingly.”

Along with An, Kim also made history in women’s swimming at the FINA Aquatic Championship, advancing to the final in the women’s individual medley. Though Kim finished sixth out of eight swimmers in the final race with a time of 2:10.40, advancing to the final was the best-ever Korean finish in either the men’s or women’s individual medley.

Kim was only 0.69 seconds behind Madison Cox, who won a bronze medal. Still, there are some improvements that need to be made, but Kim has raised the bar in Korean swimming, setting the Korean record in the women’s individual medley.

“I felt there is a lot of room for improvement, especially with my conditioning,” Kim was quoted as saying on Yonhap. “But at the same time, I am confident I can learn from this experience and continue to grow. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do better in future races.”

Once Kim improves on butterfly, considered her weakness, there may be a possibility of her winning a medal in the upcoming international championships.

Meanwhile, Park, who competed in the international event for the first time in six years, also failed to win a medal but didn’t disappoint fans, as he managed to advance to the finals in two of the three events he raced in. In Park’s main event, the 400-meter freestyle, he finished fourth with a time of 3:44.38. He finished last in the 200-meter race with a time of 1:47.11.

Though Park regretted not winning a medal, he was more concerned that his disappointment in the 400-meter race would hold him back in the remaining events.

“I am disappointed with the world championships not because I didn’t win any medals, but because I didn’t really enjoy it,” Park was quoted as saying on Yonhap. “I think I let my disappointment from the 400-meter linger, and it affected my race in the 200-meter. Winning medals would have been nice, too, but more than anything, I wanted better records.”

The three swimmers will now be focusing on winning a medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.

BY KIM HEE-SEON [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]