Olympics, Swimming: Flash Liu Zige of China Sets World Record in Women’s 200 Fly

By John Lohn

BEIJING, China, August 14. WANT to hear a place go absolutely crazy? Should have been in the Water Cube for the final of the women's 200 butterfly, where China won gold and silver to the roaring delight of the home crowd. Making the decibel level rise another notch was the fact that both women obliterated the world record.

The top seed heading into the final, after consistent showings in the prelims and semifinals, Liu Zige took the lead at the 150-meter mark and burned through the final 50 meters to touch the wall in an eye-popping effort of 2:04.18. That time crushed the world record of 2:05.40, set by Aussie Jessicah Schipper at the 2006 Pan Pacific Championships.

While Liu captured the gold medal, countrywoman Jiao Liuyang grabbed the silver medal as she overtook Schipper on the final lap and touched in 2:04.72, well under Schipper's previous record. Schipper took the race out quickly, touching well under world-record pace at the 50- and 100-meter marks. But she couldn't remain strong down the stretch and finished in 2:06.26 for the bronze medal. Schipper also won bronze in the 100 fly.

"I didn't expect that I could swim that fast," Liu said. "I was surprised to win the gold in world-record time. I have never imagined that I could win gold in the Olympic Games."

Poland's Otylia Jedrzejczak, the defending Olympic champ, was fourth in 2:07.02 while Japan's Yuko Nakanishi took the fifth position in 2:07.32. Rounding out the field were France's Aurore Mongel (2:07.36) and the American duo of Elaine Breeden (2:07.57) and Kathleen Hersey (2:08.23).