Tribute to Jo O-ryeon

You may know about "Marine Boy" Park Tae-hwan, the darling South Korean Olympic swimmer. But you probably haven't heard of the godfather of Korean swimming, the "Asian Seal," Jo O-ryeon.

Tribute to Jo O-ryeon (1952 – 2009)


So I got curious after typing up an off hand comment in my last post, and did some quick googling about Korean swimmers, and it turns out this Korean Olympic athlete from back in the 1970s, by the name of 조오련, not only swam the English channel, but swam from Korea to freaking Japan. A 13 hour swim, Busan to Daemado (that's right, I said Daemado, not Tsushima: 🇰🇷).

I start to panic at the beach if water starts reaching above my nipples.

Just look at some of the stuff on this guy's list.

Achievements of Jo O-ryeon. Image: SK행복지기

Forget the Olympic medals. This guy swam out to Dokdo from Ulleungdo. Don't kid yourself. That's a 87 km distance, 18 hours in the water.

Swim the whole damn Hangang? Why not.

And then for the hell of it, this guy swims 33 laps around Dokdo. FOR FUN. I can't even get off my ass to pick up the remote.

And look at the "bulging" confidence on this guy:

조오련 raising the Taegukgi in Japan in 1980. Image: Donga Ilbo

All this from a country bumpkin who apparently couldn't even get a proper swim suit during his early competitions.

Absolute legend. These are the kind of guys whose shoulders we in Korea are standing on today. 고이 잠드소서.

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