PHOENIX, Arizona, September 23. SUN Yang almost broke the world record in the men’s 400 freestyle today at the Chinese long course nationals. This despite telling the media that he hasn’t been training consistently since the world championships.
Sun swam a 3:40.29 to become the third person under 3:41 and put him two tenths off Paul Biederman’s world record of 3:40.07. The other person to swim under 3:40 … Ian Thorpe, who went a 3:40.08 in 2001. Obviously this sets Sun up for double, maybe even triple gold, at next year’s Olympics, but he’ll have to go through some major competition. In the 400, he’ll have to take down reigning world and Olympic champion Tae Hwan Park, and in the 200 he’ll have world champ Ryan Lochte, Olympic champ Michael Phelps and world record holder Paul Biedermann among others to contend with in that race. Lochte apparently was so impressed with Sun’s 200 free time of 1:45.99 that he sent out a message to Sun on Weibo, which is China’s version of Twitter, saying “I heard you won the gold yesterday!! Congrats! And best of luck in the rest of your competition!” Sun replied to that message, saying “Thank you. I will work harder. I wish you good luck.” Sun also wrote on his blog after the race that “This feeling is wonderful. Today is just a beginning for next year, I believe I can create better results on the Olympic Games next year.”
Sun’s time in the 400 is an Asian record, breaking the 3:41.35 set by Zhang Lin at the 2009 world championships. Zhang is not at the Chinese nationals, settling in now in Los Angeles to become another member of Dave Salo’s professional swimming squad. Chinese reports state that Zhang will only be there for a couple of months training with the likes of Olympic champ Ous Mellouli.
Sun Yang hasn’t been the only major star of the Chinese nationals. Wang Shun is showing the world that he’s going to be a force in the 200 IM, maybe as early as next year. First, he went a 4:11.61 in the 400 IM yesterday to jump up to fourth in the world rankings. Wang did not compete in this event at the world championships, but he now has to be viewed as a threat for a medal at the Olympics, as his time would have gotten him the bronze at worlds and just a few tenths behind Tyler Clary’s silver medal. Wang came back today to post a 1:58.56 in the 200 IM, which is eighth in the world. In 2010, Wang was 14th in the world in the 200 IM and 45th in the 400 IM, so the 17-year-old is making a lot of improvements just in time for the Olympics.
Sun Xiaolei set a national record in the men’s 50 back with a 24.87 and Shao Yiwen swam an impressive 4:04.59 for the women’s 400 free title. You can read more about the swims on our world channel at swimmingworld.com.
Diana Nyad is taking back her statement that she’ll never try to swim from Cuba to Florida again, announcing today that she’s diving back into the ocean for another attempt at the 103-mile swim. Nyad ended her quest last month after complaining of shoulder pain while the ocean currents kept pushing her off course. She’ll start later today in Havana and fight waves, physical torture and Mother Nature toward the goal of increasing her world record of the longest ocean swim without a shark cage. Nyad’s swim will take about 60 hours, so she could be walking onto the beaches of Florida by Sunday afternoon.
Watch today’s episode of Streamlined News