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Hwang Sun-woo becomes 1st S. Korean swimmer to reach 100m freestyle final at worlds

Feb. 15, 2024 - 09:31 By Yonhap
Hwang Sun-woo of South Korea celebrates after winning the men's 200-meter freestyle title at the World Aquatics Championships at the Aspire Dome in Doha on Tuesday. (EPA-Yonhap)

Hwang Sun-woo has advanced to the final of the men's 100-meter freestyle at the world swimming championships in Qatar, becoming the first South Korean to race for a medal in the event.

Hwang finished third overall in the semifinals of the 100m freestyle at the World Aquatics Championships at the Aspire Dome in Doha on Wednesday, with a time of 47.93 seconds. The top eight among 16 swimmers in the semifinals reached the final, which will begin at 1:21 a.m. Friday.

Hwang earned his first career world title Tuesday by winning the 200m freestyle final. It was his third career medal at the worlds, following a silver in 2022 and a bronze in 2023 in the 200m race.

He will now be the first South Korean to swim in the 100m freestyle final at a world championship.

"I am proud of myself for reaching the 100m freestyle final as the third-fastest qualifier," Hwang said in a video interview released by his agency, All That Sports. "This will be my first world championships final in the 100m. I will do the best I can."

The 100m freestyle isn't Hwang's main event. He set the national record time of 47.56 seconds during the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, while he was still 18 years old, and hasn't been able to improve on that mark since.

In Doha, Hwang broke 48 seconds for only the second time since the Olympics. He will likely have to at least match his national record to reach the podium in the final. Pan Zhanle, the current world record holder from China with 46.80, won the semifinals in 47.73 seconds. Alessandro Miressi of Italy finished second in 47.88 seconds.

Before the worlds, Pan and Miressi were seen as the two strongest 100m title contenders, with Hwang also expected to join them on the podium.

By winning his 200m freestyle title, Hwang became the first South Korean swimmer to grab a medal at three consecutive world championships.

If Hwang adds a medal in the 100m freestyle, he would break a tie with Park Tae-hwan for the most career world championship medals by a South Korean swimmer with four. Park won 400m freestyle gold medals in 2007 and 2011, and added a 200m freestyle bronze in 2007. (Yonhap)