arena Swim of the Week: Wang Xizhe Runs Down 200 Fly Field With 28.94 Closing 50

Swim of the Week is brought to you by arena, a SwimSwam partner.

Disclaimer: Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The Swim of the Week is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.

The final night of the 2023 World Junior Swimming Championships featured one of the biggest comeback victories we’ve seen in recent memory in the 200 butterfly, as China’s Wang Xizhe rallied for an epic win in the boys’ event.

Wang, 17, was 4th at the final turn, nearly two seconds back of race leader Petar Mitsin, but came home in a scintillating 28.94 to claim gold in a time of 1:56.22, dropping more than a second from his previous best of 1:57.50.

Wang had shown a glimpse of that closing ability in the prelims, being the only swimmer in the field to come home sub-30 (29.72), but he took it to the next level with his sub-29 split in the final.

Split Comparison

Wang, Prelims Wang, Final
26.30 26.62
57.22 (30.92) 56.83 (30.21)
1:28.36 (31.14) 1:27.28 (30.45)
1:58.08 (29.72) 1:56.22 (28.94)

You can watch the last 50 of the race below (Wang in Lane 5):

Final Splits:

It’s certainly a rarity for swimmers to come home sub-29 in the 200 fly. For example, no one did at the 2023 World Championships (only a few broke 30), and world record holder Kristof Milak has also never done it.

We have seen it happen a few times over the years, including Jack Conger in the prelims at the 2015 U.S. Nationals (28.78), Caeleb Dressel when he set a best time at the 2019 Atlanta Classic (28.86), Laszlo Cseh in the semis at the 2015 World Championships (28.94), and Michael Phelps did so at least four times, including twice in the early rounds of the event at the 2008 Olympics (28.69, 28.75), along with the 2007 (28.99) and 2008 Missouri Grand Prix events (28.88).

Still, the fact that Wang, at 17, managed to do so in a major final in a comeback effort was certainly exceptional. The way he managed to increase his stroke rate down the stretch, while still holding water, is something few, if any, are able to do at the end of a long course 200 fly.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by World Aquatics (@world_aquatics)

Wang took on a busy schedule over the six-day meet, racing 15 times while adding three more medals with an individual silver in the 100 fly (52.65), relay silver in the 4×200 free (1:48.05 split) and relay bronze in the 4×100 medley (52.05 fly split).

See arena North America here.

Follow arena USA on Instagram here.

About arena

arena has revolutionized the world of aquatic sport through insightful collaboration with world class athletes and the development of cutting edge competitive swimwear since 1973. Today, this spirit of collaboration and innovation lives on through a continuous evolution of advanced materials and Italian design that improves the performance, style and expression of all those who chose arena. From leading the lanes to living in style, arena is dedicated to providing all swimmers with the tools they need to express themselves, feel confident, win and achieve more. Because in arena, you can.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 months ago

Can’t say it enough but again China’s having a great year.

2 months ago

qin haiyang of fly

2 months ago

This last 50 was beautiful.
This swim and strategy remind me for this 200 fly final:

2 months ago

Very nice

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

Read More »