QINGDAO, China, May 12. THE first night of a weeklong set of racing at the Chinese Nationals proved to be a swift one with top swims going up on the board with regularity.
Sun Yang, who is back for his first competition since a lengthy suspension due to driving without a license last Fall, dominated the men’s 200-meter free with a 1:46.04 for the win. That swim vaulted him to fifth in the SwimVortex world rankings, just ahead of South Korea’s Tae Hwan Park (1:46.05). Li Yunqi touched second in 1:47.74, while Mao Feilian placed third overall in 1:48.60.
Only Cameron McEvoy (1:45.46), Thomas Fraser-Holmes (1:45.58), Yannick Agnel (1:45.63) and Kosuke Hagino (1:45.89) have been faster than Sun this year. Sun has a heavy schedule ahead of himself with the rest of the freestyles to come later this week.
If not for the big return of Sun Yang, Xu Jiayu would have been the talk of the town after tonight with his blazing time of 52.34 in the men’s 100-meter back. The swim shot him to the top of the world rankings, and crushed the Chinese record of 53.22 set by Cheng Feiyi at the 2012 Olympic Games. Xu nearly toppled the Asian record of 52.24 held by Ryosuke Irie since the 2009 Japanese University Championships. With a leadoff like that, China’s medley relay just got scarier. Zhang Yu took second tonight in 54.93 with Jin Yan placing third in 55.40.
Bi Yirong raced her way to victory in the women’s 400-meter free with a 4:06.18. That swim vaulted her to 10th in the world rankings, while Zhang Yuhan placed second in 4:06.60 to take 12th in the world as well. Xin Xin proved how deep this event is for the Chinese with a third-place time of 4:07.04 to rank 14th in the world overall.
Shi Jinglin rocketed to ninth in the world with a 1:-07.16 to win the women’s 100-meter breast, while He Yun earned second in 1:08.60. Zhang Xinyu rounded out the top three in 1:08.83. With Wu Peng retired, China is definitely looking for a new butterflier, and Wang Pudong clipped Hao Yun, 1:57.33 to 1:57.35, in the first major audition for that role in the men’s 200-meter fly tonight. Zhang Qibun took third in 1:58.67.
In relay action, Shanghai won the women’s 400-meter free relay in 3:40.45 with Liaonin (3:42.49) and Jiangsu (3:44.46) finishing second and third this evening. Although splits are unavailable, Tang Yi was won of the winning swimmers on Shanghai’s relay.