S. Korean Hwang Sun-woo wins silver at world swimming championships

June 20, 2022

South Korean teen swimmer Hwang Sun-woo has captured the silver medal in the men’s 200m freestyle at the world championships, becoming only the second swimmer from the country to reach a podium at the biennial event.

Hwang finished his race in 1:44.47 at the FINA World Championships in Budapest on Monday (local time) for his first career long course world championship medal. It was a new South Korean record and Hwang’s new personal best.

He finished 1.26 seconds behind the champion, David Popovici of Romania (1:43.21). Tom Dean of Britain, the reigning Olympic champion, won the bronze medal in 1:44.98.

Hwang, 19, is the second South Korean swimmer to win a world championship medal, joining Park Tae-hwan, who grabbed the 400m freestyle titles in 2007 and 2011, and the 200m freestyle bronze medal in 2007.

Hwang arrived in Budapest owning the eighth-fastest time in the 200m freestyle this year with 1:45.79.

He matched that time in the heats to rank second overall. Then Hwang touched the pad in 1:45.46 in the semifinals and advanced to the final with the third-best time.

In the final, Hwang swam in the third lane, with Popovici in Lane 4 and Felix Auboeck of Austria in Lane 5. Dean was in the sixth lane.

Hwang had the fastest reacton time with 0.61 second, but Dean touched the 50m pad first in 23.72 seconds. Hwang found himself in fourth place at that point with the opening split of 24.36 seconds.

Only Dean and Popovici reached the halfway point in under 50 seconds, with Kieran Smith of the United States right behind them in 50.35 seconds and Hwang still in fourth at 50.72 seconds.

The South Korean moved into third place after 150m in 1:17.33. Hwang posted the second-fastest split time in the 100-150 stretch with 26.61 seconds. Popovici moved ahead of Dean over that span.

With Dean fading away, Popovici came home in 26.94 seconds to clinch the gold in 1:43.21. The 18-year-old Romanian had broken Hwang’s world junior record in the semifinals and then improved on his own record in the final.

Hwang covered the final 50m in 27.14 seconds to nip Dean for the silver medal. Dean had the slowest final split with 28.07 seconds.

Hwang has joined some exclusive company as just the fourth Asian swimmer to stand on the 200m freestyle podium at the worlds: Park; Sun Yang of China, the 2017 and 2019 champion and 2015 silver medalist; and Katsuhiro Matsumoto of Japan, the 2019 silver medalist.

Last December, Hwang won the short course world title in the 200m freestyle race held in a 25m pool.