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.


  1. Swimmer? says:

    I don’t believe this. This is a joke.

  2. Todd Kramer says:

    Reports from Craig Lord is that the start list has the wrong birth year for her, she has been listed as being born in 2000 in other competitions.

    • S B Kong says:

      I can rest assure u she still attends primary school and she wears a Hello Kitty swimming cap during competition. Will a 17 or even 15 years have the “gut” to put on? Don’t forget America has also produced a nomber of drug cheats, notably Marion Jones, Gatlin and the like. Besides, most athletes that apply for banned drugs under the pretext of health/medical grounds are from western countries as exposed by Russian hackers.

  3. Nah says:

    The Chinese are hard to trust, it would be sad if they drugged someone this young

  4. Steve Nolan says:

    Holy hell, Yolane Kukla is only 21 years old!?

    Also, lol, thanks Google: https://swimswam.com/yolane-kukla-a-name-to-know/

  5. anon says:

    off topic, but why did Grace Carlson drop out of the stanford swim team?

  6. phelps swims 200 breast rio says:

    What is that in yards- 48 or 49?

    • Harry Dresden says:

      Depends on her underwaters. Could be as fast as 47 low if they’re amazing. As slow as 50 point if they suck. I’ve never seen her swim so I have no idea how good they are

  7. Johan says:

    Don’t be crass, my fellow “American” swim fans. Don’t assume any time some Asian, Latin, or Russian swimmer who swims faster than an American star is because they are doped or fake their age. This shows little class at best, and racial prejudice at worst.

    If you come to observe high level swim meets in California (and West Coast in general), you will see lots of Asian American swimmers (way higher than their demographic makeup in the general population) with superb technique and steely resolve (and yes, smart pressure from tiger parents) winning events with some incredibly fast time, often with a short and slim stature many experts predict not suitable for swimming.

    Whether this girl or any other young super star burn out later on in life or not is not a relevant point (remember Missy Franklin anyone?). The most salient point is that much of the world is catching up to the US, whether in business, science, or even sports. Don’t put our head in the sand. Instill the virtue of hard work, right technique, and drive in our children – don’t over praise them for worthless achievement, and look for excuse when they don’t do well.


    • aviatorfly says:

      what exactly is “smart pressure” from tiger parents? pressuring a 12 year old to swim fast is somehow good parenting?

    • Harry Dresden says:

      lol at your “most salient point.” Take a look at the results from Budapest and Rio and then try that again, Johan the “American.” Every time you jokers try to say the rest of the world is catching up to the US, we dominate you again. Why? We’re better than you and we know it.

    • Walter says:

      It would be helpful if SwimSwam verified her age first. Of course there has been doping and lying about age in China before. But was everyone suspicious of Beth Botsford who went 1:03.0 in 100 back at 12 when the WR was 1:00.1 by a Chinese woman? Or when Sippy Woodhead went 2:05.8 in the 200 free at 12 when the WR was 1:59 high by an East German?

  8. marklewis says:

    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.

  9. Quack says:

    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…

  10. Bobbi says:

    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.

  11. gregor says:

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

    • Uberfan says:

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

      • G.I.N.A says:

        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 .

      • gregor says:

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

    • Drama King says:

      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.

      • gregor says:

        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

  12. phelps swims 200 breast rio says:

    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.

  13. beachmouse says:

    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)

  14. Vic says:

    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 says:

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

      • VIC says:

        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.

  15. Vladislav22 says:

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

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About Loretta Race

Loretta Race

Loretta grew up outside Toledo, OH, where she swam age group and high school. Graduating from Xavier University, she stayed in the Cincinnati, OH area and currently resides just outside the city in Northern KY.  Loretta got back into the sport of swimming via Masters and now competes and is …

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