SHAOXING, China, April 26. THE final day of competition at the Chinese long course nationals featured a thrilling race in the women's 200 breast, as well as an impressive mile from Zhang Lin.
Ji Liping and Sun Ye let the world know that Qi Hui's apparent retirement from the sport does not mean China is without a strong corps of breaststrokers. The two battled for 200 meters, with Ji winning the 200 breast in 2:24.30 over Sun's 2:24.57. The times are the fourth and fifth fastest swims in the world. In third place was Wang Qun with a 2:27.86, just a hundredth faster than fourth place finisher Fan Rong.
Zhang Lin told Chinese media of his hopes to put up strong performances in the 200, 400 and 1500 freestyles at the meet, and he made good on his promise with a strong mile, finishing in 15:00.39. Zhang almost joined Ryan Cochrane as the only two men to break 15 minutes. Cochrane still leads the world with a 14:56.83. Coming in second in the 1500 was Dai Jun in 15:06.17, good enough for fifth in the world, and third place went to Zu Lijun in 15:24.43.
The Chinese have been on the international medal stand in the women's 800 free relay since the 2004 Olympics, and won the world championship last year. The swims today in the women's 200 free final put the world on notice the Chinese plan to continue their dominance in the event. With top swimmer Pang Jiyang out of the meet due to illness, the victory went to Tang Yi in 1:57.86, a time good enough to put her sixth in the world. Second place went to Zhu Qianwei in 1:58.33, while third place went to Liu Jing in 1:58.69.
The final two individual events of the meet saw the winners post times that put them in the top 10 in the world. Chen Yin won the men's 200 fly in 1:55.67, good enough for third in the world behind Takeshi Matsuda and Nick D'Arcy. Second place was awarded to Chen Weiru with a 1:58.86, and third place went to Zu Hang with a 2:00.67. Notably, national record holder Wu Peng elected to not swim the meet, staying instead in the United States to train.
In the men's 200 backstroke, Zhang Fenglin won with a 1:58.42, the only time under two minutes at the meet and a swim fast enough to be seventh in the world. Second place went to Diao Jigong with a 2:00.52 and third place went to Cheng Feiyi with a 2:01.22.