China Breaks Mixed Medley Relay World Record For First Swimming World Record of 2020 (VIDEO)

Yan Zibei. Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

China’s team of Xu JiayuYan ZibeiZhang Yufei and Yang Junxuan lowered the world record in the mixed medley relay at the Chinese National Swimming Championships in Qingdao with a 3:38.41. The swim lowers the Americans’ world record of 3:38.56 from the 2017 World Championships, as this marks the first official world record in the sport of swimming in 2020.

In a year that has been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, questions had begun surrounding the swimming world earlier this summer whether 2020 would be the first year no world records in swimming would fall since 1896, due to numerous events getting cancelled like the Olympic Games, to slow down the COVID-19 pandemic around the world.

But China’s team of Xu (52.45), Yan (57.96), Zhang (55.32) and Yang (52.68) broke the official first world record of the year in the swimming pool.

China’s team:

  • Xu, 52.45
  • Yan, 57.96
  • Zhang, 55.32
  • Yang, 52.68

USA’s former world record:

  • Grevers, 52.32
  • King, 1:04.15
  • Dressel, 49.92
  • Manuel, 52.17

The mixed medley relay will be making its debut at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, as it has become a game of strategy among national team coaches. The event was introduced at the World Championships in 2015, as Great Britain took the inaugural gold medal in Kazan, while the United States and Australia won the last two World titles. China was disqualified in this event in the heats at the 2019 Worlds, as they would have been a medal favorite with their best line-up. In 2018, the Chinese had the third fastest mixed medley relay time in the world, behind the Australians and the British.

Moving ahead to next year’s Olympics, it could be a six-team race in the final with the best teams from the United States, Australia, China, Japan, Great Britain and Russia.

Zhang Yufei has emerged as a key piece for China’s relays, as she bolted up to second all-time in the women’s 100 butterfly earlier this week in a huge time drop that saw her become the fourth woman to break 56 seconds in the event. Yan also was right on his best time in the 100 breaststroke earlier this week, the event he won bronze in at the 2019 Worlds.

Xu is the two-time reigning world champ in the 100 back and is ranked second all-time in that event, while Yang is the junior world record holder in the 200 freestyle and an emerging star for the Chinese team.

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Additional reporting by John Lohn.

Already the winner of the 100 breaststroke, his top event, Yan Zibei added the 200 breast crown to his collection when he covered his four laps in 2:12.14. On the women’s side, Yu Jingyao bested the competition in the 100 breaststroke after touching the wall in 1:08.18. Yu was quicker in prelims, where she went 1:07.98.

Peng Xuwei was the winner of the women’s 200 backstroke, as she managed the only time under 2:10 with an effort of 2:09.92.

The controversial physical-fitness testing that was conducted prior to the meet left a pair of would-be top seeds out of their respective finals. Wang Jianjiahe posted the fastest time in the prelims of the women’s 400 freestyle (4:04.45) while Qin Haiyang led the way in the men’s 200 breaststroke behind a mark of 2:10.25. However, because Wang and Qin didn’t record top-eight performances in their fitness tests, they were denied their places in the final.

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