By John Lohn
HARBIN, China, April 18. WHY wait until the championship heat when the semifinals do just fine? Popping a time of 25.53, Ouyang Kunpeng took down the Asian record in the 50-meter backstroke during the Chinese Spring Nationals on Sunday.
Ouyang had an easy time qualifying for the final and, in the process, lowered the former Asian record of 25.67, set by Malaysia’s Alex Lim in 2002. The swim was one of several quick efforts produced over the weekend. Prior to that effort, Ouyang won the 100 back in 54.73, a little more than a half-second off the Asian record of 54.25, held by Japan’s Tomomi Morita.
The reigning Olympic and world champion in the 100 breaststroke, Lue Xuejuan proved she’ll be a player at the World Championships in Montreal this summer by blasting the field in her pet event. Clocking 1:07.88, Lue had no problem dispatching Chen Huijia, who finished second in 1:10.08.
In the men’s 200 butterfly, Wu Peng delivered a strong performance of 1:56.54. The sixth-place finisher in the event in Athens, Wu is expected to be in the medal mix at World Champs. Meanwhile, the women’s 200 fly was a down-to-the-wire finish that resulted in a seventh straight national title for Cui Li (2:11.11). She was followed to the wall by Li Jie (2:11.31) and Huang Xiaotong (2:11.51).
The championships in the 800 freestyle were captured by Zhou Cong (8:11.56) and Yang Jieqiao (8:35.59) while Zhao Lifeng took top honors in the 50 free among the men, going 22.94. Other wins were posted by Wang Haibo in the men’s 100 breast (1:02.88) and Chen Xiujun in the women’s 50 back (28.64).