Posted : 2012-12-28 19:44
Updated : 2012-12-28 19:44

Robotic leg swimmer accepted into university

Kim Se-jin, left, better known as “the robotic leg swimmer,” poses with his mother Yang Jeong-sook at the 2009 Disability Sports Events (DSE) National Junior Swimming Championships in Sheffield, the United Kingdom. Kim, 15, became the youngest to be admitted to Sungkyunkwan University’s College of Sports Science on Monday.
/ Courtesy of Sungkyunkwan University

By Kim Bo-eun

It is noteworthy when a 15-year-old is accepted to a university, but even more so if it is someone making outstanding achievements despite significant challenges.

Kim Se-jin, also known as “the robotic leg swimmer,” has basked in the limelight since he became the youngest student to be admitted to Sungkyunkwan University’s College of Sports Science on Monday.

Kim was born without the bottom part of his right leg, a left foot and three fingers on his right hand.

But Kim at the age of 9, he entered a 5-kilometer race and climbed the Rocky Mountains. In 2009, he won a 10-kilometer race.

His high spirits and determination have led him to be selected as one of the four "Young heroes to lead Korea" by the Korea Scout Association in 2009. His life story has been published in ethics and Korean language elementary school textbooks.

Without the bottom part of his right leg, Kim has had to wear a prosthetic leg ever since he started to walk. He said the only moments he feels truly free is when he is in water, without his artificial leg.

Kim's mother Yang Jeong-sook soon recognized her son's talent, and he started entering various competitions where he proved his capabilities. At the 2009 Disability Sports Events (DSE) National Junior Swimming Championships in Sheffield, the United Kingdom, he won three straight gold medals.

Kim also committed himself to studying for the middle and high school qualification exams in order to go to university. He studied four hours daily and passed both tests in nine months.

None of this would have been possible without his devoted mother.

The 44-year-old adopted Kim who she met while volunteering at an orphanage in 1998. Yang has worked as a babysitter, chauffeur and counselor to raise her son.

"I am so proud of him. Although circumstances for disabled swimmers in the nation remain very poor, I believe he will become a world-class swimmer like Park Tae-hwan," she said.

The ambitious Kim plans to earn a medal in the 400-meter freestyle at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. His ultimate dream is to become a member of the International Olympic Committee.

"I am very excited to attend university next semester. I plan to earn my bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree at the school, to achieve my goals step by step," said Kim.

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