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LONDON, England, July 28. THE textile best fell twice during prelims of the women’s 400-meter IM at the 2012 London Olympics as swift swimming continued to be on offer at the London Aquatics Center.
In heat three of five, 16-year-old Ye Shiwen of China blasted a time of 4:31.73. That swim eclipsed the textile best of 4:31.74 posted by USA’s Elizabeth Beisel at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, and moved Ye up to eighth in the world rankings. Beisel, however, returned fire in the final heat with a 4:31.68 to retake the claim to the fastest time in textile, and moved to eighth all time ahead of Ye, bumping Ye back to ninth.
Beisel, the world champion in this event last summer, will be vying for Team USA’s fifth gold medal in the event, but first since Janet Evans topped the 1988 Seoul Olympics in the distance medley with a 4:37.76. Ye, meanwhile, is shooting to become the first woman from China to ever win the event. Lin Li is the only other Chinese medalist with a silver in the event behind Krisztina Egerszegi at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
“I think that I have a big target on my back since last summer,” Beisel said. “A medal would be nice but I’m just concentrating on my time. I think the fly is my weakest stroke, but it’s feeling good and if I can hang on I’ll have a chance of doing something good.”
Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu qualified third in 4:33.77, and could become her country’s first gold medalist since Egerszegi in 1992. China’s Li Xuanxu gave her country two swimmers in the top eight with a fourth-ranked 4:34.28, while Spain’s Mireia Belmonte Garcia touched fifth in 4:34.70.
Local hero Hannah Miley qualified sixth in 4:34.98, while defending gold medalist and world-record holder Stephanie Rice of Australia checked in with a seventh-place time of 4:35.76. USA’s Caitlin Leverenz snatched the final spot in the finale with a 4:36.09.
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