South Korean swimmer Park Tae-hwan departed for Rome on Sunday to open his pre-world championships training camp, with an eye on a gold medal at the biennial competition.
Park, 27, is scheduled to compete at the FINA World Aquatics Championships in Budapest. The competition begins July 14 with synchronized swimming and diving, and the swimming portion starts July 23.
South Korean swimmer Park Tae-hwan holds a press conference in Seoul on June 16, 2017. (Yonhap)
This will be Park's first world championships in a long course (50-meter) pool since the 2011 event in Shanghai.
He won his second 400m freestyle title there. His first world title in the 400m free came in Melbourne in 2007. Those two titles sandwiched Park's only Olympic gold medal in the 400m at Beijing 2008.
Park set up camp in Sydney in mid-February, and on the first weekend of May, he traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, to compete at the Arena Pro Swim Series. Park won three titles there in the 200m, 400m and 1,500m freestyle.
Park returned home last Thursday for a short rest, and has chosen Rome as his next camp site since it's in the same time zone as Budapest.
At a press conference in Seoul on Friday, Park said he wants to capture a gold medal in Hungary, with a focus on his two main events: 400m and 200m freestyle.
Though other swimmers got a head start in their preparations for the worlds, Park said he's rounded into form nicely and he's been able to train without major physical issues.
Park owns the fourth-fastest 400m free time in the world this year with 3:44.38, set in Atlanta last month. Sun Yang of China, the two-time reigning world champion in the distance, is the leader this season with 3:42.16.
In the 200m, Park is ranked sixth this season at 1:46.71, also set in his May victory in Atlanta. Sun is also tops in this event this year at 1:44.91. (Yonhap)