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FINA World Championships, Swimming: Flash! China Crushes Women's 800 Free Relay World Record -- July 30, 2009

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ROME, Italy, July 30. EVEN with Allison Schmitt attempting a Lezakesque final 50 meters for the U.S., China completed a demolition of the world record in the women's 800 free relay at the FINA World Championships.


China's contingent of Yang Yu (1:55.47), Zhu Qian Wei (1:55.79), Liu Jing (1:56.09) and Pang Jiaying (1:54.73) clocked a 7:42.08 to cut two seconds from the Australian world record of 7:44.31 set at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. That team featured Stephanie Rice (1:56.60), Bronte Barratt (1:56.58), Kylie Palmer (1:55.22) and Linda Mackenzie (1:55.91).

Schmitt nearly closed the distance in the final 50 meters, but ran out of room as the U.S. foursome of Dana Vollmer (1:55.29), Lacey Nymeyer (1:57.88), Ariana Kukors (1:55.18) and Schmitt (1:54.21) put together an American record time of 7:42.56 to take silver. That time beat the American record of 7:46.33 also set in Beijing.

Great Britain's team of Joanne Jackson (1:55.98), Jazmin Carlin (1:56.78), Caitlin McClatchey (1:56.42) and Rebecca Adlington (1:56.33) completed the podium with a 7:45.51.

Italy (7:46.57), Australia (7:46.85), Hungary (7:48.04), France (7:48.44) and Canada (7:49.14) were the other finalists.

Vollmer provided the fastest leadoff split with her 1:55.29, while Federica Pellegrini nearly moved Italy onto the podium with a 1:53.45 anchor leg to lead all other splits.


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July 30, 2009 Was it the suits, or are they on drugs again? or both? Now is probably the perfect time to benefit from performance enhancing drugs. The issue is flying way under the radar with all the talk about suits. Takes me back to 1996, when nobody really took notice of the half-leg Aquablade torso suit worn by Michelle Smith in Atlanta because of her drug use. And 1992-1994, when nobody seemed to take notice of the use of windmill freestyle by the Chinese sprinters because of their drug use.
Submitted by: Swimmer Bill
July 30, 2009 No comments on suits or drugs from me this time. Heavens knows I have said my piece.

Just a racing observation.
Good Lord!! How BAD are the Brit girls turns? Blimey...haha...you would think they might do a little turnwork once in awhile.
U.S. Girls crushed them around the walls and it was SO noticeable.
They might have given the US a run if if they learn how to streamline past where the flags would be.
VERY obvious in that race side by side with the US.
Submitted by: rcoach
July 30, 2009 I would check out very closely on Eric Shanteau. Testicular cancer has very good relation to steroid use.
Submitted by: zhaoleban
July 30, 2009 Swimmer Bill, you can never know with the Chinese, but I'm inclined to believe that after being caught red-handed in numbers several times, they would've cleaned up their sport somewhat.

Too bad Nymeyer was such a week leg for the US. There a number of US swimmers that could have swum that leg faster (why didn't they try Julia Smit?) and would have won somewhat comfortably.
Submitted by: mario2007
July 30, 2009 The Chinese beat the Americans in Beijing last year as well, with three of the four girls they used today...it's not 1994 anymore, and these girls didn't come out of nowhere to form this winning team, they've been on the international scene for many years.
Submitted by: FatDrew
July 30, 2009 rcoach,

How about how BAD are the US girls relay take offs? If they all got to 0.1, US would've won that relay... 0.45 on Schmitt!!
Submitted by: Sphere
July 30, 2009 zhaoleban...Im sure Eric and his coaches made very sure no banned substances were used in his treatment. He was monitored closely and tested often by the team's doctors until having surgery immediately after returning home. Eric is having an amazing year with newfound motivation and support. Any big time drops were due to hard training and of course the suits.
Submitted by: gtx84
July 30, 2009 I'm with FatDrew; I predicted the Chinese win because I saw that two of their 1:56 swimmers had only gone 1:58's in the prelims, and I recognized the names from previous international swims including when they beat us last year.

As for Smit, this week she was a full second off of her 200 IM time from trials, and had only gone 2:00 at trials for the 200 free, then scratched finals. Mario, who else were you thinking of that could have gone faster than Nymyer? I suppose DeScenza might have, but she'd probably be too tired from her 200 fly. Basically our team did a great job, but the Chinese had their top swimmers and we were missing Hoff at her best (and possibly Coughlin if she could get down to 1:54-1:55)
Submitted by: liquidassets
July 30, 2009 Actually it was semis that Smit scratched at trials, not finals.
Submitted by: liquidassets
July 30, 2009 Why is it when the Chinese or any of the ex-Eastern block countries beat the US, it's always about the drugs or any illegal advantage that comes up. Face it, the rest of the world is improving on merit. Quit the whining. This only diminishes their achievement... endless hours of practice and time in the water.
Submitted by: PB
July 30, 2009 Well PB; only one person on here suspected drugs so far, and even he thought it could be just the suits as one possibility. It's understandable that someone will question it, given China's history. But the consensus on here so far seems to be that they were just the better team. And all bets are off with these suits; as Rowdy said you never know who will improve the most with the suits .

Btw, I went back and checked the splits; Nymyer did go .5 slower at night than morning, and Yang Yu led off for China at 1:55.4, which is .8 faster than she did in the individual 200 race, and 3 seconds slower than she swam in the morning relay prelims. (and it would have gotten her bronze in the individual race). Even though China used the same swimmers in the morning as night, Nymyer had to go all out and swim her best time just to make it onto the relay, while Yang knew she was already on it, and had the "luxury" of swimming 3 seconds slower than her evening time and able to conserve alot of energy for the final--same for some of the other Chinese swimmers as well. Those two swimmers tipped the balance. Kukors came through big-time though, 1:56.2 leadoff in the morning then 1:55.1 at night; really I didn't expect that from her, although maybe I should have given the huge drop she had in the I.M.
Submitted by: liquidassets
July 30, 2009 Well PB; only one person on here suspected drugs so far, and even he thought it could be just the suits as one possibility. It's understandable that someone will question it, given China's history. But the consensus on here so far seems to be that they were just the better team. And all bets are off with these suits; as Rowdy said you never know who will improve the most with the suits .

Btw, I went back and checked the splits; Nymyer did go .5 slower at night than morning, and Yang Yu led off for China at 1:55.4, which is .8 faster than she did in the individual 200 race, and 3 seconds slower than she swam in the morning relay prelims. (and it would have gotten her bronze in the individual race). Even though China used the same swimmers in the morning as night, Nymyer had to go all out and swim her best time just to make it onto the relay, while Yang knew she was already on it, and had the "luxury" of swimming 3 seconds slower than her evening time and able to conserve alot of energy for the final--same for some of the other Chinese swimmers as well. Those two swimmers tipped the balance. Kukors came through big-time though, 1:56.2 leadoff in the morning then 1:55.1 at night; really I didn't expect that from her, although maybe
Submitted by: liquidassets
July 30, 2009 oops got cut off, last line should be "...maybe I should have expected that from Kukors given her huge drop in the IM"..
Submitted by: liquidassets
July 30, 2009 oops got cut off, last line should be "...maybe I should have expected that from Kukors given her huge drop in the IM"..
Submitted by: liquidassets
July 30, 2009 china also broke contract with speedo and wore jaked... they were LZR in the morn i believe. same with the woman who won the backstroke, she wore LZR until finals. same with the 800 guy lzr morning jaked night.
Submitted by: onehandtoucher
July 30, 2009 PB, to suspect China of using drugs is not at all out of line, nor is it whining. Do you happen to recall what happened at the last world championships held in Rome in 1994? The team won 12 of 16 titles at that event with several swimmers whose names never appeared in the world rankings prior to the event. Eleven athletes tested positive for dihydrotestosterone at the 1994 Asian Games, which decimated the squad for the 1996 Olympics. Over 40 swimmers from China haver failed drug tests since 1990, four tested positive before the 1998 world championships, and large amounts of human growth hormone was found in the luggage of Yuan Yuan just before those championships.

If you've read Swimming World, you should know all of the above...
Submitted by: Swimmer Bill
July 31, 2009 Swimmer Bill by your logic are you saying that anytime a Chinese swimmer swims fast its not at all unreasonable to suspect drug use? That's sad. Where exactly do we draw the line for crimes that have occurred in the past? I feel its very unfair to raise that suspicion given the staggering amount of world records that have been lowered at this meet, especially on the women's side. Prior to the suits elite swimmers weren't able to drop 2-3 seconds off their best at a time in one go. Ariana Kukors? Mary Descenza? It's definitely the suits.

I really think Swimming World needs to change its name to Swimming America. This meet is full of swimmers dropping staggering amounts of time put four of them on a relay and what do you expect to happen.
Submitted by: biffoflevi
July 31, 2009 biff- I don't believe I commented on where I reside. The question I raised has absolutely nothing to do with nationalism. It has everything to do with swimming history.

I recommend brushing up on your swimming history a bit before commenting again. Read what Phil Whitten wrote in Swimming World about the Chinese starting in 1994. China's exceptionally poor record in the 1990's very much earned them the additional scrutiny. Same for the East Germans after their government sponsored doping regime in the 70's and 80's.
Submitted by: Swimmer Bill
July 31, 2009 Bill, does that mean we should suspect Britta Steffen and Paul Biedermann of doping because in the 70's the Germans had state-sponsored doping? Because according to your logic, they have "earned" that scrutiny. When does that scrutiny end? 30 years? 50 years?
Submitted by: FatDrew
July 31, 2009 To be honest, I think a few of the folks commenting here need to go back and read past issues of Swimming World.
Submitted by: Swimmer Bill
July 31, 2009 I'm going to side with Swimmer Bill and say not only is it reasonable to suspect the Chinese when they perform well, I think with the state of the sports world it's reasonable to suspect any performance you see by any athlete.

I'm not jaded, cynical, sour, or any nasty adjective you can think of, I just think it's reasonable for someone to have questions about athletic performance this day and age. I wouldn't even necessarily agree with a person, but they certainly have a right to have questions.

USA Track and Field has been a bastion for PED usage, NFL and MLB have problems with PEDs. Elite American cyclists have been caught. It might be naive to think swimming doesn't have a problem behind the scenes. Of course we all hope not, but we look through biased glasses as most of us are so passionate about swimming we lose some objectivity.
Submitted by: fl_coach
July 31, 2009 Although I don't necessarily suspect any swimmer specifically of doping, in general, at this meet, personally I would be more likely to suspect a swimmer from China than Germany due to both their history and that politically the country is still a coercive society, relatively speaking, whereas Germany is now a relatively open and democratic one now, as opposed to the 70's when they (Germany) were part of the Eastern communist block and their women were forced to take steroids.

But given that the Chinese don't seem to have time drops disproportionate to those of swimmers from other countries here, my conclusion is that the suits are responsible. Of course it's possible swimmers from many countries are doping with new drugs that aren't detectable yet. If so, they'd be stupid not to stop when the suits get banned next year or then they'd stand out then.
Submitted by: liquidassets
July 31, 2009 liquidassets:

It's almost hilarious to relate doping to polical system. Check the doping list, I'm sure U.S will have a much longer list than China does.

A country has cheated in its own financial system will cheat on everything.
Submitted by: zhaoleban
July 31, 2009 zhaeoleban: I'm not sure what doping list you are talking about. Your opinion is unsubstantiated and therefore appears biased.

I was referring to state-sponsored doping. There's nothing hilarious about what happened in the DDR, and the swimmers who were doped are still paying the price, as they testified against their government run swimming program. Brush up on your swimming history: Stasi had evidence of horrific state-sponsored, systematic, mandatory doping of swimmers and other athletes when their secret files were discovered after the fall of the Berlin wall and reunification of Germany. By their own admission, the doping was directly-related to the DDR's aspirations to achieve political prominence through show of strength.

Except for a few East German swimmers who became prominent media figures and politicians, the former East German swimmers all denounced their government for forcing them to take banned drugs with harmful side effects.

I'm not sure if there is evidence linking the Chinese doping in '94 to the government, though it's hard to believe that someone in the government didn't know, given the ridiculous results in both swimming and track and field. I do believe that their government has responded to worldwide criticism and cleaned up its act. However, multiple scientists from Europe, U.S. and other countries have spoken up in recent years about experimentation going on in China with gene doping that the government may be aware of. There is a good article about it in Sports Illustrated from last year. It's not a far stretch, given sporadic problems with lack of open communication from China. That said, I repeat that: at this meet, I don't see anything out of the ordinary from the Chinese that would make me suspect doping in their swimmers any more than any other country's swimmers.

I am not aware of any history of systematic, state-sponsored doping in either the U.S. or any other open/democratic society, though, of course, there are many unrelated individuals from many countries who have tested postitive.
Submitted by: liquidassets
July 31, 2009 oh sure, Flo Jo is not from or unrelated to a so-called open/democraptic country, and US gov or US IOC is not aware of her abnomoly, I'm sure a lot of people got very close to her records of 100 and 200 in more than 30 years. Do you want me to talk about Carl Lewis?
Submitted by: zhaoleban
July 31, 2009 No, I'd like you to stick to the topics at hand: swimming, clusters of positive tests by a team indicating possible state-sponsored doping, and evidence for positive tests. You're talking about speculation, and about two individual athletes from a different sport. I'm not exonerating individual athletes from any countries who have tested positive, including the U.S.A.

But Chinese swimming in the 90's shared many characteristics with DDR of the 70's and early 80's; currently they do not, in my opinion. At this point, I'd echo Swimmer Bill and suggest that you go back and read that history about DDR and China so we can have a more informed discussion, thanks.
Submitted by: liquidassets
July 31, 2009 Well my comments about swimming america are more due to the fact that (at this meet) after mary descenza and ariana kukors broke their respective world records there was nothing but praise about their work ethic and their positive personalities in the comments but after Americans have lost races I've read a number of disparaging comments on why the American swimmer lost. Prior to the suits anybody dropping the amount of time descenza and kukors dropped would have flat out been accused of doping regardless of nationality then the Chinese swimmers drop less time but are still suspected of doping. I acknowledge that the Chinese program has in the past used drugs and I agree we should be vigilant about it happening in the future, but at this meet with the free for all on suits I feel its really insulting to the Chinese swimmers to suspect doping. It's the suits. As the comments above have pointed out these swimmers aren't coming from out of the blue as they did in '94 so it's clearly the suits. Try to give the swimmers/ suits a little credit.
Submitted by: biffoflevi
July 31, 2009 Do you mean the comments here on this site? Swimming World is an American magazine so of course there will be some bias in favor of Americans! We're all biased in favor of our own country to some extent, lol. But it doesn't help matters that the Chinese officials control their athletes to the extent that they give less press conferences and have a tighter rein so it's more difficult to get to know them when they keep to themselves. But that's typical of closed societies in general. And whether it's fair or not, because of the 90's debacle, China is going to be facing more scrutiny than other countries for some time to come, especially if their style as above remains unchanged. They tried to play the race card back in '94 to deflect suspicions, (which turned out to be correct) but in reality it's their own behavior that makes people suspect them more.

Which reminds me, did anyone from the Chinese delegation ever explain why Gao Chang didn't show for her 50 back medal ceremony? Qianwei Zhu accepted Gao's medal for her, then Gao appeard and joined the parade around the deck, and then Qianwei got back up on the podium to accept her own relay medal. There may be a perfectly good explanation, but in the absence of communicating an explanation, that's the kind of odd behavior that doesn't help their image any.
Submitted by: liquidassets
August 1, 2009 As soon as I saw that the Chinese team won this relay on Universal Sports, I knew that this discussion would be happening here. I remember the same issue being brought up when they medaled at the Olympics last year. I am glad that more people are able to objectively look at this meet before jumping to conclusions or making generalized statement. I am well aware of the history of the sports and what happened in the 1990's. I do think that the current crops of Chinese swimmers in international meets appear to be performing and improving in-line with the rest of the world. As someone pointed out above, the winning 800 relay team is almost the same as the silver-medal team at the Olympics last year. They have also medaled in the 800 free relay in the last few World Champs and two Olympics. Their performances are, therefore, fairly consistent. They no longer have these swimmers that just pop out of nowhere and put up unbelievable times (actually, one can argue that other countries or even the US have more surprise "breakout" swimmers than China).

Also, I don't know if anyone notices but both Chinese girls in the 200 fly were wearing LZR during the final. Coincidentally, the two are also a small number of swimmers that didn't really drop times from last year. In fact, Liu actually lost the event to Schipper. Zhang Lin would be another example as he didn't place as well in the 400 wearing a LZR, but won the 800 when he switched to one of the newer tech suits. I think these performances suggest that the Chinese's time improvement during this meet (which is actually smaller than most other countries) is most likely due to the suit.
Submitted by: buw
August 1, 2009 liquidassets, was wondering about this too and found one news report with an explanation. Gao Chang wasn't back from her drug test and the organisers refused to delay the medal ceremony. So, they grabbed a random Chinese swimmer as her replacement. Gao Chang turned up later to "reclaim" her bronze medal from Liu Jing.
Submitted by: spw
August 1, 2009 the logic of liquidassets puts out about Gao Chang's medal incident really questions his/her intelligence.

Submitted by: zhaoleban
August 1, 2009 Actually zhaoleban, no it doesn't. Liquidassets has long been a big part of posting informative and interesting comments here on sw.com.

Just because you don't agree with him doesn't necessitate calling into question his intelligence.

One might look at your posts, however, and draw their own conclusionss.....


Submitted by: Hodori88
Reaction Time responses do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions
of Swimming World Magazine or SwimmingWorldMagazine.com.

Reaction Time is provided as a service to our readers.




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