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Coaches Drive Success of Swimmers Park and Phelps

Posted July. 23, 2009 08:47,   


Korea’s top swimmer Park Tae-hwan, 20, and U.S. Olympic champion Michael Phelps, 24, both have their respective coaches to thank for their success.

"Marine Boy" Park began training for competition at age seven under coach Noh Sang-min, who heads the Korean national team. The fruit of their collaboration and efforts came in August last year, when Park won Korea’s first Olympic gold in the sport in the men’s 400-meter freestyle thanks to Noh’s outstanding leadership and support.

When the swimmer began neglecting training after winning a gold in the 2007 world championships, Noh brought him back to the pool. The coach also had Park return to the Taeneung Training Center in Seoul after he had trained extensively abroad. Noh helped to get Park in peak physical condition over a two-month training session.

Phelps, who won a record eight golds in the Beijing Olympic, owes a debt of gratitude to his coach Bob Bowman. Bowman has trained Phelps since the swimming sensation was 11 years old, and Phelps expressed thanks to his mentor in his new book “Beneath the Surface.”

Phelps started swimming to overcome a physical handicap at age seven, and has emerged as global star under the perfectionist Bowman.

Phelps said Bowman made him what he is today through systematic and well-organized training and forcing him to train every day. The coach also stood by Phelps when his protégé endured humiliation after being caught smoking marijuana this year.

Thanks to his coach, Phelps is in Rome for this year’s world championships in prime physical condition, as evidenced by his new world record of 50.22 seconds in the 100-meter butterfly in the U.S. championships July 10.

Park and Phelps will face off again in the men’s 200-meter freestyle. Last year, Phelps won the event with a world-record time of 1 minute 42.96 seconds, while Park ranked second in 1 minute 44.85, setting an Asian record.