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Park Gearing Up for Swim Championships

Posted March. 20, 2007 07:15,   


“I will do exactly what I said in my homepage. I won’t let you down,” said Park Tae-hwan, a South Korean swimmer, in an international phone call on Monday.

Park has been preparing for the World Swimming Championships during the short period after the Doha Asian Games last December, developing his stamina and swimming skills. Above all, he became physically bigger. Over the past four months his weight has changed from 71kg to 63kg to 68kg to 74kg.

Last December, when he first participated in the Asian Games, he was in a good shape, 181cm tall and weighing 71kg, but he lost 8kg after taking part in seven events. On January 3, he started a personal training regimen, admitting to his poor body condition. Two weeks after his training, he got his weight back to 68 kg. However, his muscle strength was only 80 percent of normal one due to a lack of training.

Park is now in a much better condition than he was in the Asian Games. He swims 80km and participates in weight training each week.

He began his overseas training in Guam from January 29 and then moved to Melbourne, Australia on February 12. Kim Ki-hong, a fellow researcher of the Korea Association of Certified Exercise Professionals, who is in charge of Park’s physical training, said, “His muscular strength has dramatically increased compared to his weight.”

His swimming style has also changed a lot. He did the 50m with 33 or 34 strokes in the Asian Games, but now he finishes in 30 or 31 strokes. Fewer strokes mean that he is pulling his arms through the water more powerfully and kicking off the wall harder when he turns. He can now swim underwater 6.2m per kick compared with 5m.

A month-long training session with Wane Lowis, 51, a coach for the Australian national youth swimming team, helped him advance his swimming style as well.

Lowis shrugged at first when he saw Park’s swimming, but three weeks later, he said he had nothing to teach him anymore, because Park took to his teaching like a sponge.

However, the only problem is that the swimming pool for his training is too far away. It takes about an hour-and-a-half to go to and come back from the pool by car. Instead, he is using a nearby swimming pool during his stay with the help of a Korean swimming coach living in Australia.