Chinese Long Course Nationals: Liu Zige Betters Textile Best; Incredibly Fast Evening All Around

WUHAN, China, April 6. THE fifth night of the Chinese Long Course Nationals put a serious dent in the record books with several national records, a continental record, and a textile best going up on the scoreboard.

In a finish our on-deck observer compared to the epic Michael Phelps/Milorad Cavic 100 fly finish at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Liu Zige edged Jiao Liuyang, 2:04.40 to 2:04.44, in the women's 200 fly. Liu had a rough final 25 meters before nailing her finish, while Jiao was caught on a long stroke to the wall. Both times crushed the previous textile best of 2:05.40 owned by Jessicah Schipper since the 2006 Pan Pacific Championships. The previous bellwether mark this year had been a 2:05.90 from Ellen Gandy in February.

Liu still owns the world record with a techsuit-fueled 2:01.81 from October 2009, while Jiao nipped her previously fifth-ranked all time personal best of 2:04.50 from the 2009 World Championships. Jiao still remains behind Katinka Hosszu's 2:04.27 from Worlds that year as well. Jiao had beat Liu in prelims, 2:08.87 to 2:08.90. Gong Jie wound up third this evening in 2:07.14 to move to sixth in the rankings.

Wang Chengxiang dominated the men's 400 IM with an Asian record time of 4:11.89. That swim beat the 4:12.20 set by Japan's Yuya Horihata in April 201, and far surpassed the previous best time in the world this year of 4:13.37 from Roberto Pavoni. Wang moved up to 15th in the all time ranks as well. Li Xiang took second in 4:14.59, while Huang Chaosheng touched third in 4:14.71. Li and Huang jumped to sixth and seventh in the world rankings.

Sun Yang set the Chinese national record in the men's 200 free with a sparkling 1:44.99. That effort eclipsed the 1:45.83 set by Zhang Lin back in April 2009, and bettered the world best this year of 1:45.47 set by Yannick Agnel last month. Sun improved to ninth in the all time rankings as well. Sun split the race 25.17, 26.71, 26.84, 26.27. Our on-deck observer stated once again that Sun could be much faster as he takes three straight breaths off each turn to both sides before picking his speed back up on his fourth stroke. Li Yunqi earned second in 1:47.69, while Jiang Haiqi took third in 1:47.90 as both moved into the top 10 this year.

Another Chinese standard fell, this time in the women's 1500 free when Li Xuanxu posted a 16:09.56. That performance beat the previous record of 16:13.01 set by Chen Hua back in October 2002. Li improved to fifth in the world rankings this year. Shao Yiwen finished second in 16:22.90, while Zhou Lili grabbed third in 16:26.09.

Gao Chang captured the women's 50 back with a 27.98 to be the first swimmer under 28 seconds this year. Aleksandra Herasimenia had been the previous world pacesetter with a 28.06 from January. Xu Tianlongzhi finished second in 28.22 for sixth in the rankings, while Yao Jianan placed third in 28.69 to finish just outside the top 10 in the rankings. Notably, world-record holder Zhao Jing missed finals with an 11th-place 29.41 in prelims.

After moving to fourth in the world rankings in the men's 50 breast with a 27.90 in prelims, Qu Jingyu topped the finale in 27.95. Xie Zhi placed second in 28.06, while Gu Biaoyong earned third in 28.16.

Shanghai won the women's 400 medley relay in 4:02.76, while Guangzhou took second in 4:03.98. Liberation Army nabbed third in 4:04.46.

Special thanks to Christopher Chow for contributing to this report.