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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.
|Wang, Prelims||Wang, Final|
|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):
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.
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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).
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