Photo courtesy of Tony Lenahan/Saline Courier
Don’t be surprised one day if you’re watching the Olympics and a young man named Minki Kang steps up to the starting block representing South Korea. And when it happens, you should be pulling for him as a graduate of Bryant High School.
Kang, who recently signed a national letter of intent to continue his education and swimming career at Missouri State University in Springfield, has that goal.
Asked when he realized he might be good enough to earn a college scholoarship, he related, “I’ve never realized that I’m good at swimming because there are still people who are faster than me. I’ll probably realize it when I make the Olympics.”
Kang received interest from major Division I colleges, Arizona, Utah, Harvard, Georgia, Ohio State, Alabama and Missouri among others. He took official recruiting visits to Auburn, Virginia Tech, Louisville, Florida State and Missouri State.
“I got really good offers from all these five schools,” he said. “But, after my trip to MSU, I felt more that I was already part of the team when I met the teammates. They always cheer for each other and they are the closest team I’ve ever seen.
“Also, both the fantastic coaching team and the great group of swimmers helped me make my decision,” Kang added. “I believe MSU is the perfect fit for my goals. I have seen that they’re getting bigger and faster over the last few years and that MSU could be top 15 in the NCAA in the next few years.”
“They are getting a great swimmer,” stated Bryant swim coach Angel Dale. “He does what it takes to win or achieve his goals.”
Kang set a State record in 2013 with a clocking of 4:32.52 in the 500 yard freestyle. He earned all-State honors in the that event as well as the 200 free in both 2013 and 2014. He was all-District in the 200 free, the 200 individual medley and the 200 freestyle relay in 2013. He was all-District in the 500 free and 100 yard backstroke in 2014.
With the Dolphin Lasers, he’s set more than 20 state records in the 500, 1000, 1650, 400, 800 and 1500 meter freestyle. He also won several Sectional championships and finished seventh at Junior Nationals. In the summer 2014 sectionals, he won the 500 yard, 1000 yard, 1650 yard, 800 meter and 1500 meter events.
Kang came to the United States two years ago with his mother Sookkyung Chong. His father Sehwan Kang still lives in South Korea.
“It was for my better education in both swimming and school,” he said. “It was a big challenge to live in a strange country. I had to learn a different language and culture.”
He started swimming competitively when he was 6 years old.
“My mom said that I really liked to play in the water when I was young so she decided to start me swimming,” Kang related.
He completed his high school eligibility because of his age last season but will graduate from BHS this spring.
His sister Jinson was an outstanding swimmer for the Bryant team as well, completing her eligibility after the 2012-13 season.