August 4, 2009

S. Korea’s ‘Asian Seal’ Cho dies

Cho Oh-ryun, a stellar South Korean swimmer nicknamed the Asian Seal, died of a heart attack Tuesday, hospital officials said. He was 56.

Cho was found lying on the floor by his wife, Lee Seong-ran, at his home in Haenam, the Yonhap news agency reported. He was taken to Haenam General Hospital but officials said efforts to save him failed.

Cho won four golds in the 400-meter and 1,500-meter freestyle events at the 1970 and 1974 Asian Games.

In 1980, the year he was awarded the Cheongryong Medal for his athletic accomplishments, Cho swam across the Korea-Japan strait and Yonhap said he had been training to repeat the feat next year.

Cho also swam across the Dover Strait between England and France in 1982.

Cho served as a member of the Korean Olympic Committee in 2003.

Besides his wife, he is survived by two sons from a previous marriage. Cho's first wife died in 2001.