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Swimmer Park Reportedly Bests Hackett’s 400-meter Time

Posted August. 06, 2008 06:44,   


Swimming sensation Park Tae-hwan, aka “Marine Boy,” has reportedly broken Australian rival Grant Hackett’s personal best this year in the 400-meter freestyle.

In April, Park set a new Asian record with a time of three minutes 43.59 seconds at the Dong-A Swimming Championships. Now, he has broken Hackett’s year-best mark of three minutes 43.15 seconds.

Since his arrival in Beijing Sunday, Park has been adjusting himself to the city environment. Many experts are thus expecting him to win the 400-meter freestyle Sunday for his first Olympic gold.

○ Park’s momentum growing

Song Hong-seon, a researcher at the Korea Institute of Sports Science who is in to Beijing to help the Korean swim team, said yesterday, “(Prior to his arrival), Park had already broken his own record. Now, he’s bested Hackett’s mark.”

But it remains a mystery how much Park shortened the previous record, and how close he got close to the world record (three minutes 40.08 seconds) held by Ian Trope of Australia.

After his first practice in Beijing Sunday, Park said, “I will do my best to set a new world record.”

If he wins the gold in the 400 meters, he could earn a few more in the 200 and 1,500 meter races.

○ Hackett’s stamina key

Park and Hackett trained together Monday at the Water Cube in Beijing, the venue of the 400-meter freestyle race.

Unlike last year, Hackett has shed his love handles.

Song said, “Hackett must have gone out of his way to get back into shape prior to the Olympics. On the surface, he looks good but will probably not have much strength.”

Unlike Park, who picks up speed through his streamlined form, Hackett entirely depends on his stamina. Thus a loss of strength means a lot to the Aussie.

Park has been on a 24-week gold medal regimen since February to lose weight, not stamina. “Everything depends on the start,” Song said.

○ Dream trio

Song, who has trained Park scientifically, did not get a staff pass and is assisting Park from the outside. He is in close contact with Coach Noh to get Park in top condition, forming a “dream trio.”

“It would’ve been a lot better if I could help him inside the venue as a staff member. But I’m doing what I can do for now,” Song said.