Five Women To Watch At The Asian Games

Photo Credit: Delly Carr

INCHEON, Korea, September 16. THE start of the swimming competition at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, Korea is less than a week away; with the official psych sheets yet to be released, here are five women who could make a major impact at the meet.

1. Ye Shiwen, China

Jul 31, 2012; London, United Kingdom; Ye Shiwen (CHN) poses with her gold medal and a China flag after winning the women's 200m individual medley finals during the London 2012 Olympic Games at Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Courtesy: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

China’s Ye Shiwen, the reigning double Olympic champion and undisputed queen of the individual medley events, will look to add a couple more IM titles to her already impressive resume in Incheon. Ye has already posted some of the fastest times in the 200 IM (2:10.49) and 400 IM (4:30.84) in 2014 and will be looking for world-leading times in those events. She’ll need to be faster than Katinka Hosszu’s 2:08.11 in the 200 and Japan’s Mao Fujita (4:30.47) in the 400 in order to accomplish that. After an off 2013 World Championships in which she failed to medal in either IM event, Ye looks poised to defend her 2010 Asian Games titles in both events, which she won at age 14.

2. Kanako Watanabe, Japan

Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr

Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr

Kanako Watanabe of Japan could present a threat in multiple individual events, including the 100 and 200 breaststroke and the 200 IM. In the 100 breast, only world record-holder and 2012 Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania has been faster this year, as Meilutyte posted a 1:05.21 in August and Watanabe swam a 1:05.88 in June. Watanabe also sits second in the world in the 200 breast with a 2:21.09, behind Denmark’s Rikke Moller Pedersen (2:19.61). Japan has a number of 200 breaststrokers who could challenge her, however, including Rie Kaneto (2:21.58) and Mio Motegi (2:23.81). Watanabe ranks 10th in the 200 IM this year at 2:10.65, less than two tenths behind Ye Shiwen.

3. Shen Duo, China

(140817) -- Nanjing,Aug 17,2014 (Xinhua) -- Shen Duo of China prepares for the swimming competition of Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, capital of east China?s Jiangsu Province, on Aug. 17, 2014. (Xinhua/Fei Maohua) (txt)

Photo Courtesy: Xinhua/Fei Maohua

Shen Duo is the highest-ranked Chinese woman in the world in the 100 and 200 freestyle events, and she could be knocking on the door for some huge performances next week. Her 53.84 in the 100 free ranks 13th internationally, while her 200 is eighth at 1:56.12. She has a relatively comfortable cushion over the next-fastest swimmer from Asia in both events, as Japan’s Miki Uchida (54.28) and fellow countrywoman Qu Yuhan (1:56.82) have the closest times to Shen’s in 2014.

4. Fu Yuanhui, China

Photo Courtesy: Joao Marc Bosch

Photo Courtesy: Joao Marc Bosch

Fu Yuanhui hasn’t just been one of the best backstrokers in Asia this year, but one of the best in the world. She owns the top time in the 50 back at 27.51, and the fifth-best 100 back at 59.59, both from Chinese Nationals in May. If she can approach or possibly surpass these times in Incheon, she’ll make a huge impact on China’s medley relay, and in both individual events.

5. Satomi Suzuki, Japan

Jul 30, 2012; London, United Kingdom; Satomi Suzuki (JPN) reacts after finishing in third in the women's 100m breaststroke finals during the London 2012 Olympic Games at Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Courtesy: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Japan has serious depth in the women’s breaststroke events, and one swimmer looking for a breakout performance is Satomi Suzuki. Suzuki has solid times across all three distances this year, with a 31.04 in the 50 breast, 1:06.48 in the 100 breast and 2:26.30 in the 200 breast. Her best shot for a medal is definitely in the 100 breast, where she’s put up the fifth-best time of 2014. Japan’s lineup in the 200 breast is particularly stacked, as eight others are ranked ahead of Suzuki in the world rankings this year.