Shen Duo: A Look Into China’s Sprint Future With Her American Age Group Coach Ron Turner

INCHEON, South Korea, September 23.  LAST night, China’s Shen Duo ascended to a new level within her country by winning Asian Games gold in the women’s 100-meter freestyle.  Her time might not have been her best, considering she lit up the Youth Olympics Games with a FINA World Junior Record time of 53.84, but the Asian Games are a lot different when it comes to the prestige the Chinese place on winning gold here.

What is lost in some of Shen’s back story, along with several other young up-and-coming Chinese swimmers, is that it was an American who actually coached them early on in their age group careers.  That’s right.  Blue Wave Swim Team head coach Ron Turner had spent time in China as the head coach of the Jiangsu Provincial Team in Nanjing training swimmers for the Chinese Nationals and World Championships, and he is responsible for discovering Shen, and fast-tracking her training to the Nanjing Sports Institute.

“While at one of the localized age group competitions, I watched a 13 year old Shen Duo compete, and although her technique and turns were far from ideal at the time, she had a phenomenal catch in the water,” Turner told Swimming World. “When I called her over after a race, the first thing I noticed was her very lanky frame, as well as big hands and feet. I brought her back to our training center where I put her with other swimmers, who at the time were much faster. Her training was very inconsistent, but I did see a few amazing efforts which definitely sold me on her ability to compete at the highest level. Over time, she adapted to a more race-pace approach to training, and at that next Nationals, swam pretty decent times.”

Turner has kept an eye on Shen since returning stateside a few years ago, and was definitely happy for his former swimmer after she claimed one of the most honored titles in China with her 100 free victory.

“Shen Duo and I have stayed in touch since I left China, and she is very happy training with the Chinese National Team,” Turner continued. “Competing at the highest level in China is much different than it is here in the States. Winning at Asian Games or Chinese Nationals is much more than a medal: it’s a cultural social status, one of honor and pride that has been symbolic of their country for years and years. Many younger swimmers here don’t remember our great swimmers from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

In China, they don’t forget!

I truly equate her fast swims to how we often see swimmers here going SO much faster at their High School championships (sometimes faster than at their club meets). It’s a peer pressure thing, and more about their role as a team contributor than as an individual medal winner. I definitely think she has matured both mentally and physically over the last few years, and I think we’re going to see some faster swims from her in the next few years.”

2 comments

  1. avatar
    jason v

    Great job Shen Duo, and Kudos to Mr. Turner who saw the diamond in the rough and invested in her life when he did. May you be blessed with the fruits of your labor.

  2. avatar

    Coach T. must have taught her a thing or three as she not only won 100 free in a pr/Games Record 53.84 @ last month’s Youth Olympics but she did likewise in 200 free (1:56.12 — look out, Katie!!!) and swam second leg on China’s gold-medal winning 400 FR.

    For some reason despite winning 100 free China didn’t swim her on 400 free relay (mixed) that won and there was no 800 free relay.

    Duo could be a medal contender @ Kazan next summer if she makes team.

    Will ceases never wonder!