Born April 19, 1998 in Xuzhouj, China Yufei Zhang is a sprint freestyle and butterfly specialist, and World Championship medalist. In 2015 Zhang broke the World Junior Record in the 200-meter butterfly at just 17 years old, which she set at the World Championships in Kazan. Largely noted as a rising star in Chinese swimming, Zhang is expected to be force for Rio. Born to professional swimmers, she started swimming at the extremely young age of 3 years old, and was breaking age group records just years later.
2012 FINA World Cup
In 2012 at one of Zhang’s first major meets, she began to show promise towards one event specifically — the 200-meter fly. At the 2012 World Cup, and at just 14 years old, Zhang took on the 2008 Olympic champion, Liu Zige, in the 200-meter fly. Zhang touched 1st, taking the gold from the former Olympic gold medalist.
2014 Youth Olympics
At the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics in Nanjing Zhang took home five medals. She started the meet off by breaking the 4×100-meter medley relay Junior World Record, and her 100-meter fly split was a great contribution to that success. She then took on the 200-meter fly, and earned a silver medal taking 2nd by less than two seconds. China took another relay win in the 4×100-meter free relay, and with Zhang splitting a 54.09, the team won gold. Zhang grabbed her second silver of the meet with a 2nd place finish in the 100-meter fly, but she finished off the meet with a gold as she and her teammates won the 4×100-meter mixed medley relay.
2015 World Championships
After 2008 Olympic champion, Liu Zige, had been struggling in the pool Zhang slid right into a roster spot for the 2015 World Championships in Kazan. In the heats of the 200-meter fly Zhang had a dominant race, and not only did she touch with the no. one time entering the semi-finals, she also broke the Junior World Record. Her time of 2:06.92 was just over a tenth of a second faster than Katie McLaughlin’s former record set in 2014.
She advanced to the championship final of the event, where she lowered her 200 fly record. Zhang took the first 100 meters out quick, within half-a-second of the heat leader. Zhang basically even-split her entire swim, splitting 32.45, 32.91 and 32.86 in the last 150 meters of the race. Her solid back-half proved to be enough, as touched in 3rd place to win her first bronze medal of a World Championships.
She then went on to help China earn it’s first relay medal as the 4×200 free relay secured a bronze in the final heat.
2016 Olympic Games
Swimming at her first Olympics, Zhang competed in the 200 fly, where she moved through prelims and semi finals to qualify for the final heat. In the final, she finished 6th in a time of 2:07.40.
2017 World Championships
In Budapest, Zhang added the 100 fly to her event line up, making the final heat in both the 100 and 200 fly. In the 200 she finished 5th in a time of 2:07.06, while in the 100 she was 8th with a 57.51. She did earn a medal as part of China’s 3rd place 4×100 mixed medley relay.
2018 Asian Games
Zhang pulled 3 medals in Jakarta, including her first in the 100 fly at a major international meet. She earned gold in the 200 fly (2:06.61) as well as in the 4×100 mixed medley relay, and silver in the 100 fly (57.40).