Speed Of Wang Shun & Qin Haiyang Perplexes Jérémy Desplanches At Military Games

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Wang Shun - Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

7th Military Games, Wuhan

Jérémy Desplanches is not the first swimmer nor observer to scratch their heads and wonder at the peak-career-speed-and-faster times mustered by Chinese swimmers racing in home waters at odd times of the year.

Back in July in Gwangju, Wang Shun finished the world-title race in 1:56.97 for sixth when Desplanches – in 2018 the first Swiss man ever to claim the European 200m medley crown – clocked 1:56.56 for silver behind the 1:56.14 it took Japan’s Daiya Seto to win the crown in. Qin was not even there, China having entered just Wang in the race.

Wuhan is home. Home crowd. Global showcase vs Military Games? Desplanches’ approach is what one might expect. For the Chinese? Time to swim big; time to show that a military camp with national teammates of late did not go to waste.

On second day of action saw Olympic bronze medallist and national champion Wang Shun was pressed by China teammate Qin Haiyang to his best effort over 200m medley, 1:56.25, since he finished third at 2017 World Championships two years after the same result at 2015 titles.

Wang’s win set a championship record, while Qin clocked a lifetime best of 1:56.79 for silver and a maiden voyage inside 1:57. It was also his best since 2017, when he established the World junior record at 1:57.06. The bronze went to Desplanches in 1:58.76. Wang’s time would have demoted him to bronze at World titles – but then Wuhan was the bigger moment, apparently.

DESPLANCHES Jeremy SUI Gold Medal 200m Medley Men Finals Glasgow 06/08/18 Swimming Tollcross International Swimming Centre LEN European Aquatics Championships 2018 European Championships 2018 Photo Andrea Masini/ Deepbluemedia/Insidefoto

Jeremy Desplanches; Photo Courtesy: Deepbluemedia/Giorgio Scala

The Swiss visitor emerged from the heat of action to tell Swimming World: “Well, 1:58.7 is not that fast right now but I still got third place and I am unprepared and untapered. This year is going to be very long as I am never going to taper at all so I am going to train as long as I can until the Olympic Games because I have already qualified.”

He added: “As of now the time is not bad because it is long-course and I have only been training for one month so I think it has something good. Last week I was 1:58.3 at the World Cup so it is a bit less good but to have the six-hour time difference and a lot of stuff going on here so I guess it’s okay. It’s not bad, it’s not good, it’s in between.

Then came a question about an approach to Olympic year that diverted from his own and that of many world-class swimmers around the world:

“But I don’t like these kind of races: these guys never [this season] do these kinds of times at the World Championships but they do it here. It makes no sense. I don’t get it. But this is sport so they choose when they want to perform but I am a big thinker about this because this is preparation training for everybody and they are fit as they have never been so it’s weird.”

It is, as Desplanches suggests, up to China what and where to prioritise but he is one of very many around the world who have wondered about choices that feel alien to him.

Qin, who raced the 200m breaststroke in Gwangju but in 14th missed the final by a wide margin, led Wang on butterfly, fell back to fourth win backstroke, was back at the helm and ahead of Wang after breaststroke but the more experienced senior of the two Chinese challengers put in a 27.18 split on freestyle, to 27.83 for Qin, and the crown was his.

In other action, after six golds for China win Day 1, there were five more titles for China, leaving one each for Russia and Brazil:

  • Yang Junxuan (CHN) 1:56.21, women’s 200m freestyle
  • Oleg Kostin (RUS) 22.84, men’s 50m butterfly
  • Zhang Yufei (CHN) 58.59, women’s 100m butterfly
  • Ji Xinjie (CHN) 7:53.65, men’s 800m free
  • Suo Ran (CHN) 30.74, women’s 50m breaststroke
  • Brazil, 3:14.36, men’s 4x100m freestyle
  • China, 3:39.57, women’s 4x100m freestyle

12 comments

  1. avatar
    Stop your enmity

    “these guys never do these kinds of times at the World Championships but they do it here.” Excuse me? Wang is Olympic medalist and World Championship medalists in both Budapest and Gwangju. His time in Budapest was 1:56.2. Desplanches’ 1:56.5 wouldn’t have made him on the podium two years ago, and he can only feel lucky to win silver with such a time in Gwangju. Wang experienced some coaching changes this year, and that’s why he didn’t ajust to his best this summer. Qin wasn’t entered in 200 IM because it’s on the same day with 200 breast and he chose the latter. And, Chinese swimmers never treat a meet as training meet when he/she represents the country. That’s it.

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      The points you make are largely covered in the article (we would love to know about coach changes and other aspects of Chinese swimming and swimmers but sadly no information is forthcoming while questions to the CSA are almost invariably ignored; as for Qin, maybe it was his choice … and if so, it was a bad one: he was far from the cut for the final on breaststroke and very far from the pace of what it took for a medal, while the time he did today on medley would have challenged for a medal …). The Swiss athlete is making a point that has been made far and wide on many occasions by athletes, coaches and others around the world. In almost all leading swim nations, it is very rare to find swimmers racing faster in late October in domestic waters, even in second and lower-tier international events, than they did in July at a world championship on the way to Olympic year. Not in China. Desplanches seems only to be pointing that out. Your interpretation of that is a matter for you but if you have strong views on it, then please be big enough to write under your own name.

      • avatar
        Helen Jiang

        Wang trained under US coach David Marsh for two months in California before the World Championships. His Chinese coach didn’t follow him here. The two-month training was focused on the improvement of his skills, especially on breaststroke. However, the training volume was very small compared with his previous training. After going back from Gwangju he raised the training volume again with his Chinese coach.
        I know for most swimmers it’s already the beginning of the new season, but for Chinese swimmers who are in the Military Games, the previous season hasn’t been over yet. This game is one of their focus because the team lay a lot of emphasis on it as it’s held at Chinese home soil. It’s not weird at all if they are making good preparations for it. There were some, although not many, examples before, such as the YOG last October. I can remember many swimmers even hit their PBs in Buenos Aires, in October.

      • avatar
        Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

        Thanks Helen

    • avatar
      Jeremy

      My question is about they’re personal choice : did they choose to be that taper that soon in an Olympic year or were they forced ? We will probably never know. And you speak about enmity, I would have spoken about enmity if that would have been a close race, but that wasn’t one, they were clearly superior to me today and their is no doubt about it

      • avatar
        Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

        Quite so, Jeremy. Your question is entirely reasonable and is one that many have raised and continue to raise. I’m sorry that you appear to be taking such stick for simply expressing how you feel in a reasonable way.

  2. avatar
    Superfan

    I think Jeremy shouldn’t fuel the fire by making excuses. He went what he went and they went what they went. It looks bad when one of them has medaled on the biggest stages and Jeremy is questioning them not showing up.

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      Superfan, I think he raises a question about choices that feel strange to him, not integrity. I wouldn’t get too upset about it.

      • avatar
        Helen Jiang

        Looks like I’m not the only one who think his words are controversial. From what I saw on Chinese websites, nobody questioned why Anton Chupkov swims so fast here, even though Yan was faster at World Championships and won bronze there. I only see people say Chupkov is a strong competitor and Yan needn’t feel so bad about losing to him. If Desplanches is clear he’s just in the early phase of training for Olympics, and that he doesn’t want to give his all here, then he should be fine with his own time and accept his bronze, instead of saying ‘ I don’t like these kind of races’ and ‘these guys never do these kinds of times at the World Championships but they do it here.’

      • avatar
        Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

        Helen, your point on Chupkov is somewhat mute. It is of no interest if a certain sector of swimfandom asks no questions. Your point is that you object to Desplanches having a view on something he finds odd, something many find odd. Desplanches speaks for the moment. I speak for the historic context – and we have seen enough (plenty, really so) odd behaviour to understand in swimming that we need to be vigilant and we need to raise questions when something looks and feels odd, even if, as you suggest, there are reasonable explanations (explanations that did not come from Chinese swimming through a healthy communication channel but from you…a reader). One of the reasons to be vigilant in this way is very clear: the protection of young athletes in China. That appears to be a part of the narrative many Chinese fans have overlooked or, perhaps, feel unable to express their views on. In other nations, including most of Europe, the kinds of comments made by Jeremy are simply part of normal discourse… had they not been then I would have made far, far, far more of them. P.S: one identity per reader please.

  3. avatar
    Verram

    I think it’s a bit naive to not expect that the Chinese swim fans won’t be overly sensitive and touchy after Mack horton’s remarks about their hero sun yang… anything remotely negative or insinuating is seen as an affront to the Chinese people and should be handled carefully .. learn from The Mack experience

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      Your comment is understandable and has some truth in it, shy of what might be described as ‘the opinion bit’ inherent in your comment and the conclusion that leads you too, Verram. The fact is that taking such a cautionary view on Chinese swimming is short-term and fails to recognise the deep and troubling history of China in swimming; fails to recognise the lack of transparency inherent in the whole discussion; fails to recognise the lack of information that Chinese fans have access to. It also fails to recognise this: just because Chinese fans may be sensitive to their ‘hero’ should not prevent us from exercising our freedom of expression, including the telling of truths, the asking of questions, the holding of expectation of answers and the right to have an opinion. That works both ways. The culture of world swimming cannot and should not be set by one particular and big anomaly in the mix, a nation that has not fully (at all, some would say) acknowledged the abuse of vast shoals of teenage aquatic athletes down the years. Important to note: Desplanches has not raised any of that – he simply suggested that the choices of the Chinese athletes seem strange to him. Too much is being read into that. He makes a point that cannot be said to be unreasonable, neither in current nor historic context.