South Korean swimmer Park Tae-hwan said Monday he will need plenty of work to stay competitive at this year's world championships.
Speaking to reporters before departing to Australia to begin his training, Park said despite his Olympic and world championships gold medals, he doesn't yet deserve recognition as a "top-class" swimmer.
"In terms of techniques, I am still at the lower rungs of the ladder," Park said. "I am always trying to learn."
Park won the gold in the 400-meter freestyle at the 2007 world championships and again at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. After going through a slump in 2009, when he failed to reach any stages of the finals at the world championships, Park bounced back to snatch three gold medals at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games.
The 21-year-old said he will try to forget what has happened in past races and will try to top himself at this year's world championships, to be held in Shanghai in July.
"I always search for videos of top swimmers from around the world and try to read books on swimming techniques," Park said. "I've been picking up the difference between them and myself and trying to learn from that."
Park is coached by Australian Michael Bohl, who has previously guided the Australian national team. Bohl has been with Park since early 2010. In December, his contract with Park was extended until the end of the 2012 London Olympics.
Park is set to train in Australia from Feb. 8 to April 2, and then from April 11 to May 8, and finally from June 4 to July 15.
During May, Park will travel to the U.S. to enter a regional meet in Arizona.
Park said he will only compete in the 200m and 400m freestyle events and will forego the 1,500m race. In Guangzhou, Park set the Asian record in 200m with 1 minute and 44.80 seconds, and put up the fastest 400m time of 2010 at 3:41.53. But Park finished second in 1,500m, about 26 seconds behind winner Sun Yang.
"I will keep training for the 1,500m but I will only race in the 200m and 400m," Park said. "I am close to world records in those two distances. If I cut down on practice time for 1,500m and put in more hours on those two races, then I should improve on my records."