‘Rival’ Hwang Sun-woo (20, Gangwon Special Self-Governing Province) and David Popovic (19, Romania) will meet again.
Hwang Sun-woo will compete in the men’s 100-meter freestyle preliminaries at the Fukuoka 2023 World Aquatics Championships at 11:13 a.m. on Saturday at Fukuoka Marine Messe Fukuoka Hall in Fukuoka, Japan.
Hwang won bronze in the 200-meter freestyle final the day before, clocking 1:44.42 to break the Korean record (1:44.47) by 0.05 seconds, and will look to build on his momentum in the 100-meter freestyle.
South Korean swimming sensation Hwang Sun-woo (R) high-fives David Popovic (ROM) after the men’s 200-meter freestyle final at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships at Marine Messe Fukuoka Hall on Friday afternoon in Fukuoka, Japan. Hwang Sun-woo (KOR) won bronze to become the first South Korean swimmer to win back-to-back World Championship medals.
Hwang Sun-woo starts in lane 1 of heat 12. Coincidentally, Popovic is in the same heat, lane 4.
Hwang and Popovic had raced side-by-side in the 200-meter final in lanes 3 and 4, respectively, in a back-and-forth battle.
It’s still early in the preliminaries, so a win or loss for either athlete doesn’t mean much. The semifinals will feature the top 16 athletes from all heats, not just those in the same heat.
Popovic, the defending 100-200m champion, will look to redeem herself in the 100m after settling for a bronze medal in the 200m freestyle the day before.
South Korea’s swimming sensation Hwang Sun-woo takes off during the men’s 200m freestyle final at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships at Marine Messe Fukuoka Hall in Fukuoka, Japan, Friday afternoon.
“Sunwoo Hwang is a good friend and a fierce competitor,” said Popovic, who has kept a watchful eye on the swimmer, “and I’m sure that my failure to medal in the 200 freestyle has given me room to improve. I will rest well, sleep well and try to rebound in the 100 meters.”
Hwang was assigned to lane 1, the side lane. It’s not the end of the pool, with Mikel Skroeders (24-Aruba) in lane 0, but the side lanes offer more resistance as the waves created by the center lane athletes bounce off the walls. But Hwang doesn’t seem to mind.
In the 200m freestyle semifinals, Hwang started in lane 1 and finished first in his heat. “I actually feel more comfortable in lane 1 or 8. 한국야동 I can do my own race without being influenced by other swimmers,” he said.