SHENYANG, China, September 4. WANG Shun kicked the swimming portion of the Chinese National Games off right with a Chinese record in the men’s 400 IM. Meanwhile, Olympic champs Sun Yang and Ye Shiwen shined with wins in their events.
The Chinese National Games are the ultimate event for swimmers in China, even eclipsing the Olympics when it comes to the level of prestige for an athlete in China with huge rewards on offer for not only the athletes, but also the provinces and teams in China.
Men’s 400 IM
Wang Shun took home the first gold medal of the evening for his Zhejiang team with a 4:09.10 to top the men’s distance medley. That swim vaulted him to fourth in the world rankings this year behind Kosuke Hagino (4:07.61), Daiya Seto (4:08.69) and Chase Kalisz (4:09.22). His time would have earned him bronze at the World Championships this summer, ahead of Brazil’s Thiago Pereira’s 4:09.48. Additionally, Wang blasted his Chinese record of 4:11.61 set at the 2011 Chinese Nationals in Rizhao, China.
Meanwhile, Yang Zhixian also surpassed the previous national record with a blistering time of 4:10.78 for second place for Hunan. That effort jumped him to eighth in the world rankings behind Tyler Clary’s 4:10.39 from Worlds in Barcelona.
Huang Chaosheng rounded out the podium with a third-place time of 4:11.99 for Hunan that nearly pushed him into the top 10 in the world.
Men’s 400 free
Out under world record pace at the 100-meter mark with a blistering 53.97 initial split, Sun Yang cruised to his first gold medal of the meet with an easy speed effort of 3:43.68. That time is well off his world-leading time of 3:41.59 from Worlds in Barcelona, but Sun is on record this week as focusing on swimming for team points and medals, and not necessarily top times. There’s even concern that he has an illness this week. His time tonight was still plenty enough to top the rest of the field.
25.97, 53.97, 1:22.77, 1:51.74, 2:20.56, 2:49.46, 3:17.15, 3:43.68
This is the first of seven events Sun is swimming this week to earn big points for his Zhejiang team. He will also vie for titles in the 100, 200, 1500 freestyles as well as take part in three of Zhejiang’s relays.
This morning, Sun had a bit of an embarrassing fall. After topping preliminary qualifying with a time of 3:48.68 and exiting the pool, Sun took the time to celebrate while trying to wave to some fans in the crowd. Unfortunately, he hadn’t gained his land legs back and fell into the pool when he lost his balance.
Hao Yun, meanwhile, collected silver for Hebei with a time of 3:44.87 to jump to fifth in the world rankings behind Connor Jaeger’s 3:44.85 from Worlds. That bested Hao’s top time this year of 3:46.92 from Chinese Nationals to move him up from ninth overall. Li Yunqi rounded out the podium with a distant third-place finish of 3:48.17.
Women’s 400 IM
World-record holder Ye Shiwen, who had a disappointing World Championships in Barcelona this summer after smashing the world record in the distance medley at the 2012 London Olympics, used her patented freestyle speed to dominate the last 100 meters of the 400 IM tonight.
Ye popped a winning time of 4:31.59 tonight that would have put her on the podium at Worlds a month ago as she now stands third in the world behind only Katinka Hosszu (4:30.41) and Mireia Belmonte (4:31.21) — both times from Barcelona. She moved ahead of Elizabeth Beisel (4:31.69) as the fourth swimmer to dip under 4:32 this year.
29.40, 1:02.95, 1:38.63, 2:13.05, 2:51.64, 3:30.52, 4:01.06, 4:31.59
Tonight served as a nice bounceback for the Olympic champion, having missed the podium altogether in Barcelona, finishing seventh in the 400 IM with a 4:38.51.
Shanghai’s Zhou Min kept pace throughout most of the swim, leading at the 150, before sitting about half-a-second behind Ye through the 300-meter mark. Ye, however, turned on the afterburners down the stretch while Zhou settled for silver with a 4:33.50. That time still vaulted her to sixth in the world rankings, bettering her previously ninth-ranked season best of 4:37.44 from Chinese Nationals.
Hunan’s Li Xuanxu completed the podium with a third-place time of 4:34.89 as she broke into the top 10 in the world rankings. The top three proved to have plenty of separation from the rest of the finale, as Pang Wenyin took fourth overall in 4:44.12.
Women’s 400 free relay
Shanghai’s team powered to the fourth-fastest time in the world this year with a blazing effort in the relay to close the show on night one.
Chen Xinyi (54.03), Pang Jiaying (53.93), Zhang Sishi (54.60) and Tang Yi (53.99) put together a sizzling time of 3:36.55. That moved the team to fourth in the world rankings, behind USA (3:32.31), Australia (3:32.43) and The Netherlands (3:35.77) — all times from the World Championships in Barcelona. China’s previous top time had been a ninth-ranked 3:39.29. Shanghai’s relay tonight finished a second off the Chinese record of 3:35.63 set at the 2009 World Championships by the national team that also included Tang and Pang.
Liaoning’s Qiu Yuhan (54.98), Li Shuan (54.00), Wang Junyao (54.00) and Wang Ruqui (55.07) finished a distant second for silver in 3:38.05, while Beijing’s Han Tingas (55.14), Cheng Haihua (55.74), Fang Yi (55.48) and Zhang Jiaqi (54.83) raced to third in 3:41.19.
Women’s 100 fly
Shanghai snatched the top two qualifying spots into the finale in the women’s 100 fly as training partners Liu Zige and Lu Ying both cleared 58 seconds to make it into the finale. Liu popped a time of 57.79, while Lu raced to a 57.98. Liu jumped to sixth in the world rankings with her swim, ahead of Lu’s 57.94 from Chinese Nationals as the top time for China this year.
Zhou Yilin placed third overall in 58.27, while Sun Mengyue earned fourth in 58.37. Jiao Liuyang (58.47) and Guo Fan (58.56) also beat 59 seconds en route to spots in the finale.
Men’s 100 breast
Gu Biaorong topped the field in the first semifinal round with a 1:01.37 to lead the way into the men’s 100-meter breaststroke finale. Meanwhile, Wang Shuai snared the second seed in 1:01.60, while Li Xiayan comprised the rest of the top three heading into the finale with a 1:01.64. The finalists will be potentially looking for a Chinese national record tomorrow night as Xie Zhi’s 1:00.73 from the 2009 Chinese National Games is within striking distance.