Chinese Long Course Nationals: Sun Yang Claims 200 Free; Liu Zige Misses 200 Fly Olympic Bid

SHAOXING, China, April 6. SUN Yang continued to put up big times at the Chinese Long Course Nationals, which is part of China's Olympic selection process. Meanwhile, reigning women's 200 fly Olympic gold medalist Liu Zige looks to be on the outside looking in to defend her championship after a third-place finish.

Sun claimed the men's 200 free title in the finale with a 1:46.05, easily making the Olympic squad in the event and moving to fourth in the world in the process. Only Yannick Agnel (1:44.42), Michael Phelps (1:45.69) and Takeshi Matsuda (1:45.96) have been faster this year. Hao Yun placed second in 1:47.08 for 10th in the world, while Li Yunqi picked up third in 1:48.17.

Zhang Lin, who prior to Sun having his breakthrough in the distance freestyle events this past year had been China's golden child with a silver medal in the men's 400 free at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, missed out on another chance to represent his native land by missing the men's 200 free finale. Zhang also became the first Chinese world titlist in 73 years when he won the men's 800 free at the 2009 World Championships during the techsuit era.

Earlier in this week's meet, Zhang missed the 400 free Olympic berth with a fourth-place finish. Today, he wound up 10th overall in the 200 free with a 1:49.89 to miss the finale. His final chance to make the team will be in the men's 1500 free this weekend.

The local media has been all over Zhang's tribulations at this meet, questioning whether his training in the U.S. with the Trojan Swim Club has adversely impacted his ability in the water.

In an exciting finish, Jiao Liuyang clipped Gong Jie, 2:05.18 to 2:05.38, in the women's 200 fly as the two moved to second and third in the world behind Natsumi Hoshi's 2:04.69 from Japan this week. Both are now in line for Olympic berths, as reigning Olympic gold medalist and world-record holder Liu Zige fell to a surprising third-place finish with a 2:07.37. China, however, has a much longer selection process than just a single meet, and could potentially find a way to put Liu on the team going forward. If not, the reigning champion in the event will be watching Olympic prelims from the sidelines.

Yang Zhixian earned the men's 400 IM crown with a time of 4:11.92 to move to fourth in the world rankings, and claim a spot on the Olympic roster. Kosuke Hagino (4:10.26), Yuya Horihata (4:10.52), Thomas Fraser-Holmes (4:11.81) are the only swimmers faster this year. Wang Chengxiang placed second in 4:12.02 to move to fifth in the world, while Huang Chaosheng earned third in 4:17.47.

Li Xuanxu shot to the top of the world rankings in the non-Olympic distance women's 1500 free with a 16:09.55. That swim blasted the previous bellwether mark of 16:16.74 set by Lotte Friis last month in Denmark. Zhou Lili placed second in 16:12.15 for second in the world rankings, while Xin Xin took third in 16:13.57, now the third-best in the world.

A day after clearing 1:00 to win the women's 100 back, Fu Yuanhui continued her strong meet with a 27.95 to win the women's 50 back and move to third in the world. Rachel Bootsma (27.84) and Emily Seebohm (27.90) are the two swimmers faster than her thus far this year. Gao Chang took second in 28.07 for sixth in the world, while Xu Tianglongzi wound up third in 28.45.

Li Xiayan claimed the men's 50 breast title in 27.82 for fifth in the world, while Gu Biaorong (28.26) and Ma Xiang (28.50) rounded out the top three in the sprint breaststroke event.

Guangzhou won the women's 400 medley relay with a 4:04.91, while Chinese Navy (4:09.55) and Guangdong (4:09.55) took second and third.