2017 Swammy Awards Asia Female Swimmer of the Year: Li Bingjie

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2017 Swammy Awards Asian Female Swimmer of the Year: Li Bingjie, China

For the first time in a decade (since 2007), the whole of the Asian continent came away without a women’s swimming medal at the 2017 World Championships. We named Japan’s Rikako Ikee the Female World Junior Swimmer of the Year thanks to her exploits on the junior stage. Ikee won 3 World Junior titles (50 free, 50 fly, 100 fly) and earned 7 overall World Juniors medals; she broke World Junior Records in 8 events, with some of those records being broken multiple times. What she lacked, however, was a medal at the year’s premier international event: the World Aquatics Championships. At that meet, she was by-and-large slower than at World Juniors, and made just 1 final: a 6th-place finish in the 100 fly.

Enter, then, 15-year old distance swimmer Li Bingjie, who didn’t swim at the World Junior Championships. At the senior meet, the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, she took two individual medals (the only Asian swimmer to do so) with silver in the 800 free in a new Asian Record of 8:15.46 and bronze in the 400 free in 4:03.25.

She also added a silver from the 800 free relay, where she had China’s fastest split in the final of 1:55.46 (the 2nd-best split overall, behind Ledecky).

Bingjie isn’t the first distance phenom we’ve seen come out of China in this decade, but she is the best so far: she set Asian Records in the 400 free (4:01.75), 800 free (8:15.46), and 1500 free (15:52.87) in 2017. As the 3rd-fastest 800 freestyler (almost as fast as Ledecky at the same age), she has now emerged as the most likely candidate to challenge Ledecky at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Honorable Mentions
(in no particular order)

  • Rikako Ikee, Japan – For the reasons mentioned above, including 7 World Junior medals, and earning the right to swim a whopping 6 events at the World Championships.
  • Liu Xiang, China – Xiang continued the recent buildup of sprint quality in Asia – an area that the continent as a whole has traditionally struggled with. At China’s National Games, she swam a 24.04 in the 50 free semi-final. She was just 6th at Worlds, and her season-best would’ve bumped her only to 5th, but the swim was significant anyway.

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Dee
3 years ago

Well deserved – Such a huge talent.

I’d give Shi Jinglin a mention too – So reliable for a medal in recent years, winning 200br bronze in 2015, 2016 & 2017, yet always sneaks under the radar.

ellie
3 years ago

Yui Ohashi?

Carlo
3 years ago

Li bingjie swims 15,000 meters every day.???
Isn’t that too much training?
Or is that training base not excessive?

Training in high altitude. Working on turns,underwater and leg work. She studied ledecky,s technique in Budapest.

Seriously I won’t be surprised if she has a giant photo of ledecky in her room with ledecky,s world records in her diary as a target to come close to.
Not bad to set targets.

bobo gigi
Reply to  Carlo
3 years ago

Laure Manaudou swam 20 km per day, 5 days a week, under Philippe Lucas.

Carlo
Reply to  bobo gigi
3 years ago

Laure manaudou sweet Jesus !!!

And I never knew li bingjie had the second fastest split in the 4×200 free relay in Budapest. Faster than Emma McKeon who tied ledecky for silver.
Li bingjie 1:55:46
Emma McKeon 1:56:26
Katie ledecky was the fastest at 1:54:02.
Ledecky and bingjie both anchored.
Emma McKeon swam the second leg.

bobo gigi
Reply to  Carlo
3 years ago

She didn’t have the choice. Ask Amaury Leveaux what happens when you skip training with Philippe Lucas….
I know it’s the 56212th time I post that video but I’m never tired of it. And it makes American swim fans work their French at the same time. At least the French language of Mr Lucas which is often flowery and colorful. 🙂
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7JSTIADxnc

Bub
3 years ago

2017 SWAMMY AWARDS ASIAN FEMALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: SUN YANG, CHINA. Says sun yang lol not li bingjie

bobo gigi
3 years ago

Logically she’s the next girl under 4 minutes in the 400 free. But we have already seen young Chinese disappear so I’m cautious. If she continues to improve she should peak in Tokyo. Will KL still be at her best 8 years after her first olympic gold? It’s a long period for a mid-distance/distance girl. But she’s special so I wouldn’t bet against her right now.

Pvdh
Reply to  bobo gigi
3 years ago

Middle and long distance being only a young persons game is a myth. Generally swimmers haven’t been able swim that long due to the lack of commercial viability, with long distance being the worst affected because it’s not really a spotlight event. Ledecky doesn’t really have to worry about that. She’s so far ahead of everyone 400-1500 even in an off/transition year, it’s unreal. I don’t think peaking higher in 2020 than rio is out of the picture.

Pat
3 years ago

Swimswam reported on December 1 (https://swimswam.com/chinese-coach-liu-haitao-suspended-liu-zixuans-doping-ban/) that Liu Haitao, the Chinese coach of Li Bingjie, was suspended for two years and fined for his involvement in the doping violation of another of his swimmers, Lin Xixuan (also fined and suspended for two years). Is this not a relevant piece of information in any discussion of Li Bingjie given the possible impact on her swimming with the reported suspension of her coach and the loss via suspension of a 17-year-old training partner and relay teammate? Has anyone from Swimswam reached out to Liu Haitao, Li Bingjie, or Chinese swimming or anti-doping officials to seek comment on this?

Carlo
Reply to  Pat
3 years ago

They fined her, the coach and her provincial team and wiped out her results. Then they suspended her and her coach. They took it pretty seriously but where did the violation come from?
The individual swimmer?
The coach?
Or the provincial team?
They just blanketed all three to make a statement which is good.

The Chinese state as a whole was certainly not involved as they fined all three entities involved. Conducted a test and didn’t cover it up.

And li bingjie also participated in that same national games where the test was conducted leading me to believe it may be individual based. China conducted a bunch load of tests at those games across all sports… Read more »

Pat
Reply to  Carlo
3 years ago

Good Carlo, I am not sure what your sources would be, but do we know that Li Bingjie was tested in that “bunch load” of tests purportedly conducted by China at those Games, and do we know which other swimmers were tested? Is CHINADA transparent in disclosing the number of times it tests individual athletes? The official statistics on the FINA website indicate that Li Bingjie was tested by WADA in March 2016 but then was not tested again until May 2017, giving her (for whatever reason) an extremely long 14-month window without an internationally-based drug test proximate to the 2017 World Championships in Budapest.

Carlo
Reply to  Pat
3 years ago

Chinada conducts a lot of tests. Randomly. However all medal winners are targeted with fervor. That,s how she was caught. she won medals I think.
Li bingjie won three golds so she would have been a prime target. Maybe even the number 1 prime target as she was the most successful female swimmer at the national games.

Thing is if china wants to hide positive tests, they will and you won’t know about it. Or the Chinese media which answers to the government won’t report it. Believe me, if they wanted to sweep sun yang,s doping positive under the rug, they could have and believe me, the world wouldn’t have known a single thing. Truth is, they have no… Read more »

IM FAN
3 years ago

Li is a huge talent, and if anybody is going to challenge Ledecky in the next few years, it’s her. I personally think this will be good for the sport, as my favorite ledecky races to watch are still the 2012 800m and the 2013 800 and 1500, as she actually had competition in those races.

Does anybody remeber Xin Xin, she swam a 8:19 at age 16 in 2012, then disappeared, though she did finish 4th in the 10k at Rio? I wonder what happened to her. China can be hard to follow.

Dee
Reply to  IM FAN
3 years ago

Not the first super talent to never progress!

Xu Danlu went 4.05/8.22 aged 13 – She still swims but primarily IM in the 4.40s.

Li Xuanxu swam 8.24 aged 14 – She too focused on IM and won Olympic 400IM bronze in 2012, after world 1500m bronze in 2011.

Chen Qian swam 8.20 aged 16 – Won a few world medals on 4×200 relays, but nothing of note.

Yozhik
3 years ago

There are many talks about Li Bingjie matching Katie Ledecky. But the more I hear them the more I get convinced that it is rather a PR thing than a real analysis. Li Bingjie is by far at the level of other talented ladies (Carlin, Kapas, Smith) that are still expected to progress. Do we anticipate progress curve of Li to be more steep? But why? Just because she is much younger? But look for example at Hosszu, Pellegrini, same Leah Smith, Comerford. And how many Chinese girls were at elite level in their twenties? It would be interesting to get some information about her genetics: siblings, parents, when her puberty process completed if so, is she still growing, etc.… Read more »

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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