By Phillip Whitten
The Chinese National Championships, held October 15-22 in Hangzhou, produced a few new names to watch between now and Sydney, but few fast swims.
Cheng Jiajia, just 13, was the brightest new star, repeated her backstroke triumphs from the City Games a month earlier, clocking a personal best 29.04 in the 50 but swimming slower in both the 100 and the 200.
World record holders Chen Yan and Wu Yanyan staged a spirited battle in the 200 I.M. Two years ago, the two set unlikely world marks in both medleys, reigniting the furor over Chinese doping. Wu clocked 2:09.72 in the 200, just edging Chen, while Chen stroked to a 4:34.79 in the 400, beating out Wu and smashing Petra Schneider’s steroid-enhanced mark from 1981.
Since FINA has stepped up its drug testing, the two have been slower–much slower. And so it was in Hang Zhou, with Chen taking both medleys, beating Wu in the 200 meters, 2:15.04 to 2:15.29, and winning the 400 in 4:45.57–eleven seconds off her record.
For the most part, the men’s times were unremarkable. Newcomer Ouyang Kunpeng, 17, demonstrated his versatility by winning the 100 back (56.67) and 100 fly (53.95) with strong performances. Fu Yong returned from a drug suspension to win his specialty, the 200 back, in 2:01.66.
Veteran Zhu Yi took all three men’s breaststroke events with times of 28.53, 1:02.36 and 2:15.03. Xie Xufeng won the 200 fly and both medleys.