13TH ANNUAL NATIONAL GAMES OF CHINA
- Tianjin, China
- August 27th – September 8th
- SwimSwam Meet Preview
- Day 1 Recap
- Day 2 Recap
- Day 3 Recap
The action continued in Tianjin tonight, with 2015 World Champion Ning Zetao making his National Games mark in the pool. Kept off the Chinese roster for Budapest, Zetao has been relatively quiet since Rio. He made noise in his home nation tonight, however, cranking out the fastest 100m freestyle time of the field. After clocking a solid opener of 49.44 in this morning’s prelim, Zetao produced a quick 48.11 to hold the pole position by more than a second over the next-closest competitor, Yu Hexin and his time of 49.32.
Zetao’s 100m free mark of 48.11 tonight would have tied both GBR’s Duncan Scott and Brazil’s Marcelo Chierghini for 5th place in Budapest this summer. We’ll see what the national record holder has in store come the final tomorrow night.
The women’s 200m butterfly contingent was also in the water today, contesting both prelims and semi-finals. Leading through both is Zhou Yilin, the highest placing Chinese swimmer at the 2017 World Championships. Clocking 2:11.52 in the morning, followed by a super speedy 2:08.42, Yilin holds about a half a second lead over the rest of the field. The next closest swimmer is Li Shuang who also touched under 2:10 with a semi time of 2:09.08, with Zhang Yifan and Zhang Yufei both right behind in times of 2:09.14 and 2:09.72, respectively.
Both Yilin and Yufei have a history of finaling in this event for the Chinese, with the pair finishing a respective 5th and 6th in Rio. Both women were also a part of the women’s 200m fly in Budapest, with Yufei taking the upper hand in a 5th place finish in 2:07.06 to Yilin’s 8th place time of 2:07.67.
Yan Zibei, the men’s 100m breaststroke winner here clinched a double in the discipline, taking the 200m event easily tonight in a time of 2:09.56. The 50/100 national record holder was the only swimmer under the 2:10 mark and the 21-year-old is now within a second of the Chinese NR in this event, which stands at the 2:08.71 set just this past April by Qin Haiyang. For Zibei, today’s performance marks the first time the World championships relay medalist has dipped under the 2:10 threshold.
The women saw 2 freestyle finals on the night’s session, first in the form of the 200m. Zhang Yuhan was able to step up from her 2nd seeded position after semi’s with a gold medal-winning effort of 1:56.43 tonight. That was enough to hold off Liu Zixuan who fired off a 1:57.01 from lane 1 to claim the silver. Controversial swimmer Qiu Yuhan held the top seed after semi’s with a quick 1:56.60, but was only able to muster a time of 1:57.99 tonight to wind up 6th and well-off the podium.
Newly-minted national record holder in the 400m freestyle, Le Bingjie, made the 200m freestyle final, but opted out to focus on the 1500m event that also fell during tonight’s racing. The strategy paid off, as the 15-year-old cranked out her 2nd national record, touching in 15:52.87 to win the event handily.
The previous national record stood at 15:58.02 set by Li Xuanxu at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai. For perspective, Bingjie’s sub-15:55 outing tonight would have earned bronze at the World Championships this past summer behind America’s Katie Ledecky and Spain’s Mireia Belmonte.
Ye Shiwen, double IM champion at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, looked much better in this 200m IM than the 400m IM from day 1, as the 21-year-old was able to claim her first gold in Tianjin. Stopping the clock in 2:10.91, Shiwen was able to beat out the competition by well over a second, while earning a time on her own personal top 10 list.
In the 400m IM earlier in the meet, Shiwen showed promise by establishing herself as the top seed in the morning in a time of 4:41.63, only to drop to 6th in that night’s final, mustering just a 4:46.94.
Also racing tonight, fly maestro Li Zhuhao clocked a 200m butterfly time of 1:55.95 for gold, while 200m and 400m freestyle champion, Sun Yang, took the top seed in the men’s 800m free with a time of 7:59.43.