12-Year-Old Yichun Strikes Again With 55.60 100 Free At Nat’l Games


12-year-old Wang Yichun turned heads recently with a monster 58.44 100m butterfly performance while competing at the 13th Annual National Games of China in Tianjin. The swim was extra eye-popping when comparing the time to what other notable butterfliers produced at that same age, including former world record holder Dana Vollmer of the United States. Vollmer held a time of 1:02.49 in the event when she was 12 years old back in 2000. Yichun’s time is 4 seconds over that mark.

And the budding Chinese talent wasn’t finished, as Yichun also made a splash in the women’s 100m freestyle event on day 5. She finished 5th in her morning heat with a quick 56.24, only to drop that mark significantly during tonight’s semi-finals. The 12-year-old wound up with a super speedy mark of 55.60 to finish 6th in her semi-final. Although she didn’t fall within the top 8 for tomorrow night’s final, the pre-teen has made her mark within the event on an international level for her age.

For perspective, the top 3 American women all-time in the 11-12 100m freestyle sit over a second behind Yichun. Lia Neal tops the U.S. list with a mark of 56.87 in the 11-12 age group back in 2008, the same year in which Missy Franklin clocked a time of 57.26 to remain 2nd in the all-time stats. Grace Carlson was also under 58 in 2008 with a time of 57.97, all well off of the massive 55.60 produced by 12-year-old Yichun tonight.

Looking at other countries as we did with Yichun’s 100m fly mark, the Chinese talent’s 55.60 remains remarkable. The Dutch age record for 12-year-old girls stands at the 59.09 clocked by Olympian Marrit Steenbergen in 2012, while the Canadian record for the same age stands at the 58.04 notched by Shauna Collins way back in 1990 (!).

Britain’s Fran Halsall’s mark of 56.70 from when the now-retired Olympic finalist was 12 was closer, while I was able to find one swimmer with a time even faster than Yichun. Australia’s Yolane Kukla holds her nation’s age group record for girls’ 100m freestyle at 55.26, although the time is for a greater 13&U age group, set when the Commonwealth Games medalist was 13, not 12.

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5 years ago

Stop saying doping people. Can’t you just live with the fact that she’s very talented and hard working in the pool?

5 years ago

Very possible. Does anyone here have any idea how hard she trains? I had a swimmer join my team from one of there schools. Insane sets.

Harry Dresden
Reply to  Vic
5 years ago

For example? Forgive me but scrub swimmers tend to think a lot of the things world class swimmers do are insane

Reply to  Harry Dresden
5 years ago

Yeah, this girl was 10. She swam 7 days a week pretty much the entire morning.
W-up: 12×200’s
Set: 60 min sprints mixed with kicking drills.
If kicking drills done wrong they got hit.
with a stick.
Wnd Set: 8-12×400’s
W-d ??
This was breastroke. Not kidding man.

5 years ago

Given the relatively few number of high prestige global junior swimming events and the normal development of an elite swimmer, there really is no great incentive to fluff an athlete age like there is in gymnastics, diving, figure skating (girls trying to hit a ‘golden year’ before that harsh mistress called puberty shows up and they have to struggle not to put on an important 10-20 pounds) or track & field (lots of high value global junior meets compared to swimming)

phelps swims 200 breast rio
5 years ago

She’s faster than Chas Morton was in the 100 fly in 1983 and his 11-12 record still stands. She’s only .57 off Katie McLaughlin’s 17-18 100 fly national age group record.

5 years ago

Jenny Turrall of Australia broke the world 800m free world record at age 13, nobody accused her of doping

Reply to  gregor
5 years ago

I can assure you people did and she was extensively tested, also 12 is soooooooooooooooooo young

Reply to  Uberfan
5 years ago

Jenny Turrall & Sally Lockyer were 13 & 14 Forbes Carlisle training partners who together broke the 800WR in late 73 /74. I don’t know that ppl accused them of anything or that there were extensive testings at that time .

They’d just followed Shane Gould who also broke wr at 14 . It was thus quite normal at the time . In fact just 8 years aftet Karen Muirs WR at 12 . Only now do we think its supernormal .

Reply to  Uberfan
5 years ago

Jenny was about 4 ft 9in and weighed 4 stones, the way to back then was swim miles miles and more miles!

Drama King
Reply to  gregor
5 years ago

I believe that Shane Gould held the world records of 100, 200, 400, 800, 1500 free at age 14…..
But this maybe misprint or something….
If that so, suspecting and criticizing her would be very wrong.

Reply to  Drama King
5 years ago

Not sure if she was 14 or 15, She tied Dawn Frasers 100m mark in 71 and broke it at 15 in early 1972, But yes she held all freestyle WRs

5 years ago

When she dominated the 2017 China’s Children Swimming Championships last month, I saw several posts on Chinese social media claiming she was actually 14, not 12.

5 years ago

This can’t be true. This would rank her 5th in the U.S. all time 11-12 100 Free LCM. For BOYS, that is…

Reply to  Quack
5 years ago

I urge you to review the 13-14 200 LC fly top 100 lists, boys and girls and see where Mary T.’s 2:07.0 from 1979 would rank in the boys’ list. Especially when you remove all the 1980 and beyond times.


Would she have been faster than all 13-14 boys ever up to 1979? Interesting?

5 years ago

Maybe Swim Swam should verify her age before going ahead with these stories.

It’s not fair to her if she’s really 16 and there’s been a misprint or something.

Harry Dresden
Reply to  marklewis
5 years ago

But that would be responsible journalism…where does that happen anymore?

Reply to  marklewis
5 years ago

Craig Lord apparently verified it was a typo, she is not 12.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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