Pan Zhanle

View Current photo via Fabio Cetti

Pan Zhanle, just 17, initially turned heads when he tied the 8-year-old Chinese national record of 47.65 to make the 100free final at the World Championships. In the year following, he clocked Aisan records in the 100 free in both short course and long course meters. He helped China to a swimming resurgence in 2023. At the 2023 Asian Games, Pan became a 7-time Asian Games Medalist and the 5th man under 47 seconds in the 100 free. 

Junior Swimming

2019 Chinese Summer LC Swimming Championships (Ganzhou, Jiangxi)

Pan registered a winning effort of 15:33.48 in the 1500 free at just 15.  

2020(1) Chinese Olympic Trials (Qingdao, China)

At the primary Chinese Olympic Team Trials, Pan, just 16, moved through the 100 free semis in 2nd with a 49.51. In the final, Pan and He Junyi battled it out to the touch with Pan touching .03 seconds back of He with a 48.74. Pan was within ⅕th of a second of the FINA “A” cut. Pan was also 1:48.53 in his 200 free and 3:55.35 in his 400 free. 

2021 Chinese Summer Nationals

At his second shot at Olympic qualifying, Pan fell short of his best time in the 100 free with a 49.02. Pan was also 3rd in the 400 free with a 3:52.31 and 3rd in the 50 free with a 22.59

2021 China National Games (Shaanxi, China)

Now 17, Pan popped a new 100 free best time with a 48.59. He came to the wall neck and neck with He Junyi and Yan Jintang but ended up 3rd with all three separated by just .08 seconds. He was also 22.55 in the 50 free and 3:55.81 in the 400 free. 

National/International Swimming

2021 FINA World SC Swimming Championships (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

Pan went to his first major international competition. On the 400 free relay, Pan split a respectable 46.37 to help China make the final. Pan led off the finals squad in 47.43, China took 5th. On the 200 free relay Pan helped China to another 5th place finish with a 21.14 split. On the 800 free relay, Pan had another swift split with a 1:43.12, contributing to yet another 5th place finish. 

Individually, Pan swam the 100 free and made the semifinals with a 46.92. He missed the final with a 47.09 for 11th in the semis. 

2022 FINA World Championships (Budapest, Hungary)

In the 400 free relay, Pan split a quick 47.65, foreshadowing what he had in store for the meet. In the end, China missed the final in 10th.

Still essentially unknown, Pan made it out of the 100 free prelims with a best time of 48.19. Entering this meet, Pan’s fastest 100 free time rested at the 48.59 he logged at the 2021 China National Games. Pan turned heads in the semis, clocking his first sub 48 100 free. His 47.65 was good for 5th into the final and tied the standing Chinese national record of 47.65, held by Ning Zetao since 2014. It also fell just .09 outside of Hwang Sunwoo’s Asian record at the time. In the final, Pan missed a medal by just .08 as he stormed back from 7th at the 50 to 4th at the touch with a 47.79. 

Pan also managed to perform on the 800 free relay where he anchored in an impressive 1:45.71. His split was not enough to help a lagging relay squad and the team finished in 8th, over 2 seconds back of 7th. By the end of the meet, Pan seemed tired as he failed to break 48 seconds anchoring the 400 medley relay in prelims and finals. 

2022 Chinese SC Swimming Championships (Beijing, China)

Pan earned a time of 46.27 to take the men’s 100m freestyle. He remained China’s 2nd fastest performer of all time, however, his effort hacked about half a second off of his previous best-ever of 46.92 from Abu Dhabi. Pan also popped a quick 1:42.66 200 free for the win. Pan topped the podium twice more with a 21.54 50 free and a 53.10 100 IM. 

2022 FINA SC World Championships (Melbourne, Australia)

Pan opened his meet with a bang. After holding back in the 100 free prelims with a 46.79 but still setting a PB, he crushed a semis swim of 46.19 to make the final and near the Asian and Chinese Record of 46.14, set by Ning Zetao in 2017. In the final, Pan obliterated that record with a 45.77. Through each round in Melbourne, Pan got progressively faster on both the opening and closing splits, ultimately getting down to sub-22 opening up and sub-24 coming home in his final swim. Pan ended up 6th. 

Pan also made major contributions to relays, helping the Chinese to 3 relays finals. the 400 medley relay squad ended up 7th with Pan splitting 46.09 on the anchor. Pan led off the 6th place mixed 200 free relay in an unofficial 50 free PB of 21.49. Pan anchored the 200 medley relay in 20.88 as they placed 7th.

Pan struggled a little bit in his 200 free, ending up 14th in 1:43.48.

2023 Chinese Nationals

If anyone in the swimming world did not already know Pan, they quickly did after 2023 Chinese Nationals. Pan ripped a massive 47.22 100 free. Opening in 22.96 and closing in 24.26, pan produced the fastest swim of his life and a new Asian Record. The former Asian record stood at 47.56 from South Korea’s Hwang Sunwoo logged in the semi-final of the men’s 100m free at the 2020 Olympic Games.

Pan nearly won the 50 free with a new best time of 22.08 but was topped by Wang Changhao’s 22.01. 

In the 200 free, Pan fell just .26 seconds short of Sun Yang’s Chinese Record of 1:44.39. Pan’s 1:44.65 made him China’s #2 200 freestyler of all time. He swam a strong race with splits of 24.56/26.73 (51.29)/27.30/26.06(53.36). 

In the 400 free, Pan put up a respectable 3:46.40. He was able to slice nearly one second off of his previous fastest outing in just over a month’s time to remain China’s 6th swiftest performer in history. 

Pan was selected for both the World Aquatics Championships and the Asian Games. 

2023 World Aquatics Championsips (Fukuoka, Japan)

Pan opened his meet with a solid 47.67 leadoff on the Chinese 400 free relay, the 2nd fastest leadoff behind Alessandro Miressi. Behind him, Chen Juner (47.85), Wang Changhao (48.89), and Haoyu Wang (46.97) combined for a 3:11.38 to smash the previous Chinese record by about 2 seconds and undercut the Asian Record by a second. In the 200 free the next day, Pan was off his form with a 1:46.49 in prelims but was a bit faster in semis with a 1:46.05. He just missed the final as he and Marco De Tullio tied for 10th, just .08 off Filix Auboeck and Katsuhiro Matsumoto who tied for 8th.

In the 100 free, Pan put up a solid 47.84 to make it out of prelims in 5th. Pan comfortably made the final with a 47.61 in the semis, 3rd only to Matt Richards and Kyle Chalmers. In the final, Pan just missed out on a medal for the 2nd year in a row. This time, Pan was just .01 seconds back of Maxime Grousset with a 47.43 for 4th. Pan closed significantly on Grousset over the back half with a quick 24.39 split but ran out of room. 

Without Pan, who likely would have delivered a 1:46 split, China missed out on the 800 free relay final. 

On the final night, Pan pulled off some relay magic, anchoring the Chinese 400 medley relay in 46.62. He, alongside Xu Jiayu (53.39), Qin Haiyang (57.43), and Wang Changhao (51.56), broke the Asian record by .91 seconds. 

2023 Asian Games (Hangzhou, China)

Swimming in his home province, Pan was absolutely on fire as China dominated the field. Pan opened with a bang, clocking the 5th fastest 100 free ever. Pan split 22.45 to his feet, .51 seconds under his opening split from his old PB. While he did come home in a slightly slower 24.52, Pan obliterated his best with a 46.97. “I felt my performance was average,” said Pan later that evening. “I was aiming to break the World Record before the race…. It’s a bit disappointing that I missed it by only .1 seconds.”

In the 50 free, Pan bagged a bronze with a 21.91. While the bronze might have been disappointing, Pan did make history, however, becoming the first man to ever crack 22 in the 50 free, 47 in the 100 free, and 1:45 in the 200 free. He ended his session with a 1:44.77 anchor on China’s 800 free relay as the squad claimed 2nd in 7:03.40, 1.67 seconds behind South Korea’s new Asian Record.

Pan only swam the 400 medley relay the next night and droped an impressive anchor of 46.65. While that split was just .03 slower than his split on the previous Asian Record he helped set at Worlds earlier in the year, the rest of the Chinese squad, which remained the same, made major improvements as they smashed the Asian record by 1.99 seconds and scared the Americans’ World Record with a 3:27.01. Xu Jiayu was a blistering 52.05 on backstroke, well over a second off of the 53.39; Qin Haiyang carried the speed with a head-turning leg of 57.63; Wang Changhao fired off a bigtime of 50.68, blowing his World Championships leg of 51.56 to bits; Pan anchored. The performance rendered China the #2 performing nation ever in the men’s 400 medley relay.

In the 200 free, Pan faced off against Hwang Sunwoo. Hwang jumped out to an early lead with Pan and Lee Hojoon in tow. Pan fell all the way back to 4th at the 150 but stormed home with a 25.99 to pass Lee and Mano Hidenari. He also closed on Hwang by .8 seconds but still ended up .88 seconds back of Hwang’s 1:44.40 Asian Games Record with a 1:45.28. 

On the penultimate day of racing, Pan led off the 400 free relay in a swift 47.06 lead off. The combination of Pan, Chen Juner (48.00), Hong Jinquan (48.27), and Wang Haoyu (47.55) combined to produce a winning effort of 3:10.88 knocking half a second off of the previous Chinese national and Asian continental record of 3:11.38 notched at 2023 World Championships.

On the final day of racing, Pan put up a solid 3:48.81 in the 400 free for bronze.

This biography was originally developed by Lucas Caswell

International Medals

Place Event Year Meet
Silver 400 Medley Relay 2023 World Championships
Gold 100 Free 2023 Asian Games
Gold 400 Freestyle Relay 2023 Asian Games
Gold 400 Medley Relay 2023 Asian Games
Silver 200 Free 2023 Asian Games
Silver 400 Free 2023 Asian Games
Silver 800 Freestyle Relay 2023 Asian Games
Bronze 50 Free 2023 Asian Games

Best Times

Course Event Time Date Meet
lcm 50 Free 21.91 09/25/23 2023 Asian Games
Hangzhou
lcm 100 Free 46.97 09/24/23 2023 Asian Games
Hangzhou
lcm 200 Free 1:44.65 05/04/23 2023 Chinese National Championships
China
lcm 400 Free 46.97 05/06/23 2023 Chinese National Championships
China
scm 100 Free 45.77 12/15/22 2022 SC World Championships
Melbourne, Australia
lcm 200 Free 1:42.66 10/29/22 2022 Chinese National Championships
China