The start lists have arrived for next week’s swimming events at the Asian Games, shedding some light on the expected schedules for Asia’s top swimmers.
It’s probably not terribly surprising that Park Tae-hwan is sticking to only freestyle events in Incheon. The South Korean superstar had flirted with the idea of adding IM races to his schedule earlier this year, even competing in them at Korean Nationals. It seemed like a lot to take on, but also would have given Park several more chances to compete for medals in front of a home crowd that adores him – he’s Korea’s biggest swimming icon in memory, so much so that the brand-new aquatic center hosting these Games is named after him.
But Park ultimately stuck with freestyle, entering four distances. He’s got his signature 200 and 400, plus the 100, which he won at these Games in 2010, and the 1500. In the longest three distances he’ll race Chinese star Sun Yang, who’s spent the last few weeks stoking up the friendly rivalry between the two.
Japan’s Kosuke Hagino continues to show off his versatility, as he’s got 6 individual event entries in Incheon. He’s in the 200 and 400 IMs, 100 and 200 backs and 200 and 400 frees over the course of the 6-day meet. Hagino is the odds-on favorite to win the IM races, but he runs up against Yang and Park in freestyle, plus his own teammate Ryosuke Irie in the backstrokes. Still, it’s far from a stretch to suggest Hagino could be coming home with six individual medals. He’s also entered on all three Japanese relays, though he’ll probably only wind up swimming the two freestyle relays.
Outside of that, things are pretty much as expected. China gets to show off its young sprinters, the latest event where the country has started to show promise. On the men’s side, 21-year-old national record-holder Ning Zetao pairs with Youth Olympic Games hero Yu Hexin, who is just 18. Both will swim the 50 and 100 frees plus relays. On the women’s side, Shen Duo was another Youth Olympic Games star, and she’ll swim the 100 and 200.
Olympic gold medalist Ye Shiwen is entered in both IMs, where she’ll look to continue a career breakout. Shiwen is also one of a bunch of swimmers entered on China’s free relays, and given how strong that leg of her IM is, there’s a good chance she winds up holding down a leg of China’s relays.
Miki Uchida, who broke a Japanese 50 free record just a few weeks ago, is back in the 50 and 100 frees, and is the core of that country’s female relays.
American college fans will recognize Texas Longhorn freshman Joseph Schooling, one of the nation’s top incoming freshman, as he’s competing for Singapore here. Schooling will swim the 100 fly, 200 fly and 200 IM, while his Singapore teammate Tao Li will look to defend her 50 fly gold medal. She’s also in the 100 fly.
On top of that, the Philippines enter national record-holders Jasmine Alkhaldi (50, 100, 200 frees and 50, 100 fly), Jessie Khing Lacuna (100, 200 free and 100 fly) and Josh Hall (50 and 100 breast).
Here’s a brief summary of some of the biggest names:
- Sun Yang, CHN, 200, 400, 1500 free
- Park Tae-hwan, KOR, 100, 200, 400, 1500 free
- Kosuke Hagino, JPN, 200, 400 free, 100, 200 back, 200, 400 IM
- Ryosuke Irie, JPN, 50, 100, 200 back
- Daiya Seto, JPN, 400 IM, 200 fly
- Kanako Watanabe, JPN, 50, 100, 200 breast, 200 IM
- Satomi Suzuki, JPN, 50, 100 breast
- Shen Duo, CHN, 100, 200 free
- Ye Shiwen, CHN, 200, 400 IM
- Xu Jiayu, CHN, 50, 100, 200 back
- Liu Zige, CHN, 200 fly
- Joseph Schooling, SIN, 100, 200 fly, 200 IM