Zhang Yufei Impresses Again, Li Bingjie Hits 15:52 at China Swim Series

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Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

The China Swim Series continued with its second night of finals with some of the country’s best opening the new year in strong form.

Zhang Yufei continued her impressive roll with a 56.06 in winning the 100 butterfly final, not far off her 55.6 from September where she moved to third all-time. Zhang has established herself as a medal favorite in both butterfly distances ahead of the Tokyo Games as the 22-year-old won bronze in the 200 fly in the 2015 Worlds.

Yang Junxuan, who holds the world junior record in the 200 freestyle, won her best event at 1:55.65. The 18-year-old was a 1:54.9 in January of last year before the pandemic and also made the final at the World Championships where she was fifth overall. China has always had a strong 4×200 free relay and Yang could push them to a podium spot in Tokyo – a place they haven’t been in that relay at the Games since 2008.

Wang Jianjiahe, another of China’s strong teenagers, won the 800 freestyle at 8:21.32, off her 8:14 best time from last year. Nonetheless it is a strong swim to open the new year. Li Bingjie, who won 800 free silver at the 2017 Worlds, swam an impressive 15:52 in the 1500 freestyle heats as she lowered her best time in the process. That swim put her 23rd all-time in the 1500 freestyle.

Yu Yiting swam a 4:35.94 in the heats of the 400 IM which put her third in the world rankings for the last 12 months. She improved on her lifetime best of 4:40 from September 2020. Yu is just 15-years-old.

  1. 4:32.53, Melanie Margalis, USA
  2. 4:32.73, Kaylee McKeown, AUS
  3. 4:35.94, Yu Yiting, CHN
  4. 4:36.02, Katinka Hosszu, HUN
  5. 4:36.77, Sakiko Shimizu, JPN
  6. 4:37.54, Aimee Willmott, GBR

China’s two-time reigning World champ in the 100 back, Xu Jiayu, won the 100 back final at 53.35 as he is one of the few members of the sub-52 club and the gold medal favorite heading into the Olympics. Xu also leads the 200 back heats at 1:56.96, and also swam on the mixed medley relay team with Yan Zibei, Zhang Yufei and Yang Junxuan with a 3:45.65. That quartet set the world record earlier this summer for the only long course world record of 2020.

Wang Shun, more known as an IMer, won the 200 free at 1:46.91 just ahead of 400 champ Ji Xinjie (1:47.01) as the Chinese have a strong 4×200 free relay in the works. Wang also leads the 400 IM heats with a 4:19.51 ahead of Qin Haiyang (4:20.30).

Qin won the 200 breaststroke at 2:10.78 while Yu Jingyao won the women’s race at 2:24.41. Other winners on the session were Peng Xuwei in the 100 backstroke (1:00.13), Sun Jiajun in the 100 butterfly (52.51) and Cheng Long in the 800 freestyle (7:53.84).

In other preliminary action, Peng Xuwei leads the 200 back heats at 2:08.53 while He Junyi leads the men’s 100 free field at 48.75.

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