Zhang Yufei

View Current photo via Courtesy of Jack Spitser

Zhang Yufei is a competitive swimmer who represents China internationally. She is a 2x 2021 Olympic champion and 3x Asian Champion.

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.

International Career

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 Asian Games

Zhang had a breakout 2014, starting by helping China to gold in the 4×100 free relay at the Asian Games.

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 quickly, 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 its 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 lineup, 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

At her 2nd Asian Games, Zhang improved on her medal haul, taking gold in the 200 fly (2:06.61) and the mixed 4×100 medley relay as well as silver in the 100 fly (57.40).

2018 Short Course World Championships

At her home game in Hangzhou, Yufei helped China secure silver in the 4×100 medley relay, splitting 56.21 on the butterfly leg.

2020 Olympic Games

After moving through prelims and semi-finals being seeded first, Zhang Yufei swam her best time yet in the 100 fly final on night 2, touching at 55.64, just .05 behind Maggie MacNeil to earn silver.

Zhang was back in the 200 fly, moving easily through prelims and semis to take the top seed headed into the final. In the final, Zhang was out like a shot, touching at 26.9 at the 50 and 58.2 in at the 100. She didn’t slow down, maintaining her large lead from start to finish to touch at 2:03.86 for a new Olympic record and her first Olympic gold.

Just an hour after her historic 200 fly, Zhang was back in the pool with China, splitting 1:55.66 on the 3rd leg of their 800 free relay to help them win gold in a new world record, 7:40.33.


2021 China National Games (Shaanxi, China)

Zhang put up a 2:05.84 200 fly. She opened this race in 59.32 and closed in 1:06.52 to seal the deal. Zhang came second in the 50 free behind Liu Xiang in 24.29, as Liu became the first Asian woman sub-24. She also made some noise in the 100 fly, clocking a speedy time of 56.24.

2021 FINA World SC Championships (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

Zhang posted a 2:05.73 for second place in the 200 fly, comfortably qualifying. She beat out the final by over a second, posting a 2:03.01 for gold. That time marked a new PB and moved Zhang up to #8 all-time. Zhang was back the next day in the 50 fly. She moved through prelims in 5th with a 25.20. In semis, Zhang became just the 2nd Asian woman under 25 seconds after Japan’s Rikako Ikee (24.71), posting a 24.97 to qualify 3rd for the final. That time took down the Chinese Record of 25.14. She was even faster in the final with a 24.91 but ended up 5th. Surprisingly, Zhang scratched out of the 100 fly semis after qualifying third overall out of the heats in a time of 56.47.

Zhang was also key on relays. In the 200 free relay, the Chinese quartet of Cheng Yujie, Zhang, Zhu Mengui and Wu Qingfeng shattered the Asian record with a 1:35.00; the previous record was Japan’s 1:37.35. Zhang had the fastest split with a 23.12 on the 2nd leg. In the 400 free relay prelims, Zhang set a new PB, leading off in 53.24. Zhang clocked a swift 54.93 100 fly split in the Chinese 400 medley relay as they broke the Asian standard and placed 3rd.

2022 World Championships

Zhang started her Worlds off strong, winning bronze medal in the 100 fly on night 2. She clocked a 56.41 to finish 3rd behind Torri Huske and Marie Wattel.

In the 200 fly, Zhang was out fast in the semi-final and faded toward the end of the race but held on to qualify for the final. In the final, she had a similar strategy but held off most of the field this time, clocking a 2:06.32 to earn bronze.

Zhang won her 3rd bronze medal of the championships on night 7 in the 50 fly, clocking a new Asian record of 25.32. Later in that same session, Zhang swam the semis of the 50 free, tying for 5th place and advancing to the final.


2022  FINA World SC Championships (Melbourne, Australia)

After missing Ikee’s 50 fly Aisan record (24.71) by .2 seconds in 2021, Zhang was even closer in the 50 prelims. Zhang posted the fastest qualifying time, shaving .14 seconds off her own NR with a 24.75. Zhang was just off that form in semis with a 24.79 for 2nd behind Maggie Mac Neil. In the final, Zhang finally matched the Asian record, placing 3rd behind Torri Huske and Mac Neil’s tie for gold (24.71).

Zhang dropped both the 50 free and 100 fly after injuring her elbow but before that swam a PB of 23.76 in the 50 free by leading off the 5th-place Chinese 200 free relay.

2023 Chinese Spring Championships (Qingdao, China)

Zhang took over the top spot in the world rankings with a 56.58 100 fly, winning by almost half a second. She also won the 50 free in 24.40, just .11 off her PB, in the #3 time in the world. She capped off her meet by tying her 50 fly national record with a 25.32. 

2023 Chinese Nationals

In the 200 fly, Zhang notched a solid 2:07.99 200 fly, a season-best. She posted a PB in the 100 free with a 53.95. She was dominant in the 100 fly by over a second with a 56.48, a season-best. In the 50 free, she bagged bronze with a 24.64. She rounded out her meet with a 25.47 50 fly to complete the fly sweep.

2023 World Aquatics Championships (Fukuoka, Japan)

In the 100 fly, Zhang led the field through both the heats (56.89, only sub-57 second swim) and the semifinals (56.40). In the final, she was also first to the turn, splitting 26.03 on the opening 50 meters. Zhang powered home with the fastest split in the field after Maggie Mac Neil got a great turn for her first world title in 56.12.

After the 100 fly semi on night 1, Zhang anchored the Chinese 400 free relay with a solid 52.84 as they broke the Asian Record and took 3rd. She dropped the 200 fly to focus on the mixed 400 medley relay and it paid off. Zhang split a super 55.69 fly split to widen the Chinese lead and help them earn Gold. 

Zhang cruised through the 50 free heats with a 24.44 in 4th. In semis, she improved to a 24.20 for 3rd. Zhang was even better in the final with a 24.15 to net bronze behind Shayna Jack (24.25) and Sarah Sjostrom (23.62). Just before the 50 free semis, Zhang had a big 25.05 for silver in the 50 fly. That 25.05  set a new Asian record in the process and made her the #2 performer all-time. She had entered the top 5 list in semis with a 25.17. 

Zhang wrapped her meet with the 400 medley relay. She crushed a field-leading split of 55.50 on fly as the team took 4th.

2023 World University Games (Chengdu, China)

Theree week after Worlds, Zhang was back in the water, racing at WUGs in her home country. Zhang took on one of the most ambitious schedules ever seen on an international stage. On night 1, Zhang destroyed the 50 fly championship record by nearly half a second as she led semis in 25.29. In the same session, Zhang anchored the Chinese 400 free relay in 53.47 as they knocked .48 seconds off the championship record on their way to gold. The next night, Zhang undercut her own CR with a 25.20 in the 50 fly final, and qualified 2nd in the 100 free semis in 55.06. She later broke another championship record in the mixed 400 medley relay, clocking a 56.81 as China crushed the prior mark by 6 seconds.

On night 3, Zhang added another championship record for her growing list with a 53.34 100 free for a 4th gold. Night 4 was another record-setting evening, with Zhang punching a 1:58.71 on the championship record-setting 800 free relay. After cruising through the 100 fly prelims and semis on day 4. In the final on night 5, Zhang was supreme. She jumped out to an early lead, hitting the turn in 26.06. She came home well enough to obliterate the championship record of 57.63, which has stood for 10 years, with a 56.57. She struck gold again and another CR just 10 minutes later in the mixed 400 free relay. Zhang anchored in a respectable 54.26 as China won with a 3:25.38. 

If all of this was not enough, Zhang took on the 50 free where, in the final on day 7, she posted a 24.29 for gold by .74 seconds. True to form, that took down the championship record. Zhang capped off one of the most dominant meet performances in the history of the WUGs in the 400 medley relay. For the first half of the race, Poland was firmly in control but Zhang dove in, and Poland’s 3-second lead evaporated thanks to Zhang’s historically fast 55.47 fly split. Li Bingjie anchored the team to gold but the squad missed the CR. Zhang ended the meet with an absurd 9 golds and 8 WUGs Records.

2023 Asian Games (Hangzhou, China)

With a home games and an already impressive summer under her belt, zhang took on an ambitious schedule of the 50 free and 50/100/200 fly plus relays. Zhang verbalized before the meet that she was looking to make history as just the second woman to ever be named MVP of the entire Games.

Zhang got off to a strong start by comfortably winning the 200 fly and defending her 2018 title by about 3 seconds with a 2:05.57. That marked her 4th-fastest 200 fly ever and shaved .22 seconds off the previous Asian Games Record of 2:05.79 by China’s Jiao Liuyang at the 2010 edition of the games. Zhang stepped up again on night 1, anchoring the 400 free relay in a swift 53.19 as China took down the Asian Games Record of 3:36.52 set by Japan in 2018 by over 2 seconds with a 2:33.96.

In the 100 fly, Zhang fell just short of her continental record but still crushed the games record with a mind-boggling 55.88, her 5th-fastest performance ever. Later in the same session, Zhang clocked a respectable 56.05 100 fly split, well off her flat start time earlier in the session, in the mixed 400 medley relay. The quartet of Xu Jiayu (51.91), Qin Haiyang (57.25), Zhang, and Yang Junxuan (52.52) nearly broke the world record with a 3:37.73, a mere .15 seconds off of Great Britain’s 3:37.58. That time marked a new Asian Games and continental record. 

Zhang won the 50 free in a 24.26, beating out Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey by .08 seconds. Bot undercut the previous games record of 24.50 which Zhang herself set in prelims. Zhang was not selected for the Chinese 800 free relay which was in the same session. 

In the final session of the meet, Zhang clocked another games record, this time in the 50 fly. Zhang’s 25.10 just missed her own continental record of 25.05 but was .61 seconds faster than silver. Zhang shared the podium with Japan’s Rikako Ikee. In 2018 Ikee became the first woman in history to earn the title of Asian Games MVP, with the then-18-year-old amassing an incredible 6 gold medals. Ikee was diagnosed with leukemia in 2019 and spent most of that year in the hospital but remarkably battled back to be strong enough to compete for Japan at the 2020 Olympic Games. 

On the 50 fly podium, Zhang and Ikee shared a heartfelt hug to commemorate Ikee’s accomplishment. Zhang said, “I told Rikako, don’t cry, don’t cry. When they announced her name on the podium, I already felt like crying. But I thought to myself, this is a live telecast, I cannot cry. Then I saw her hugging her coach in tears. I could not hold back my tears anymore.”

The Asian Games typically awards the most valuable player (MVP) to just one individual but this edition named a separate men’s and women’s winner, both from the sport of swimming. Zhang and Haiyang were named respective women’s and men’s MVPs for the 19th Asian Games.

2023 World Aquatics Swimming World Cup (Multi-stop)

Zhang was the model of consistency across the three-meet World Cup circuit. Zhang won the 100 and 200 fly and placed 2nd to Sarah Sjostrom at all three stops, earning herself 2 “crowns” for her event sweeps, worth $10,000 a piece.

In the 200 fly, Zhang improved across the 2 week-long meet series. At the Berlin stop, Zhang Zhang won by over 1.5 seconds with a 2:07.11. In Athens, she took her race took out her race nearly a second faster at the 100 which paid dividends as Zhang beat her Berlin time with a 2:06.73. At the final stop in Budapest, Zhang took out her race in a similar fashion to Athens but held on much better on her back half as she touched in an impressive 2:05.65. That final swim shattered the World Cup Record of 2:06.33 set by American Cammile Adams 8 years prior at the Moscow leg of the series in 2015. 

Zhang had some choice words for the 200 fly after her victory in Berlin.“I must say that this is a really horrible event,” said Zhang. “It makes me very tired. We raced a lot at the Asian Games just recently and my body is very tired.”

Zhang had more consistent times across the stops in the 100 fly. She won at the 1st stop in Berlin with a 56.74. In Athens, she faced down Sjostom, Maggie Mac Neil, and Torri Huske and beat them all by almost a second as she took down Sjostom’s World Cup Record of 56.46 with a sizzling 56.06. Zhang was just off her record in Budapest but won by about 1.5 seconds with a 56.13 to sweep the 100 fly. 

Throughout the circuit, Zhang was consistently excellent in the 50 fly, going faster than nearly any woman ever, Zhang just happened to go up against Sarah Sjoestrom, who owned the top 20 fastest swims in history and 40 of the top 50 fastest ever going into the World Cup. In Berlin, Zhang was less than a tenth off her continental record with a 25.14 but Sjostrom still beat her with a 25.06 as both undercut the previous World Cup Record. Sjostrom was more dominant in Athens with a 24.97 but Zhang took 2nd in 25.31, still well ahead of the rest of the field. Zhang nearly stopped Sjostrom from obtaining the 50 fly “crown” but Sjostom out-touched Zhang out by a paper-thin .02 seconds, 25.21 to 25.23. 

Zhang ended up taking 3rd overall in the World Cup rankings behind Kaylee McKeown and Siobhan Haughey. With her 2 “crown” bonuses, meet prizes, and overall ranking prizes, Zhang amassed $72,000 throughout the circuit.

2023 Chinese World Championships Trials (Jinan, China)

Zhang dominated her domestic competition in the 100 fly, as she won by nearly a second with a respectable 56.85. She topped the 50 free the next night with a 24.58. Surprisingly, Zhang lost the 200 fly at the touch to Chen Luying by .02 seconds, 2:08.36 to 2:08.38. Zhang was similarly off in the same session with a 58.04 fly split in a mixed medley relay. Zhang was on the podium again in the 100 free with a 54.01 for bronze, well off her PB and NR of 52.90. Zhang was still solid in the 50 fly, posting a 25.47 for the win; she was the only woman under 26 seconds. Zhang and her fellow Cui Dengrong-trained Chinese star Qin Haiyang elected to forgo the abnormally scheduled 2024 World Championships in Doha.

International Medals

Place Event Year Meet
Gold 200 Fly 2020 Olympic Games
Gold 800 Freestyle Relay 2020 Olympic Games
Silver 100 Fly 2020 Olympic Games
Silver 400 Mixed Medley Relay 2020 Olympic Games
Gold 400 Mixed Medley Relay 2023 World Championships
Gold 100 Fly 2023 World Championships
Bronze 200 Fly 2015 World Championships
Bronze 800 Freestyle Relay 2015 World Championships
Bronze 400 Mixed Medley Relay 2017 World Championships
Bronze 50 Fly 2022 World Championships
Bronze 100 Fly 2022 World Championships
Bronze 200 Fly 2022 World Championships
Bronze 400 Freestyle Relay 2023 World Championships
Bronze 50 Free 2023 World Championships
Silver 50 Fly 2022 Short Course World Championships
Silver 400 Medley Relay 2018 Short Course World Championships
Bronze 200 Fly 2016 Short Course World Championships
Gold 400 Freestyle Relay 2014 Asian Games
Gold 200 Fly 2018 Asian Games
Gold 400 Mixed Medley Relay 2018 Asian Games
Silver 100 Fly 2018 Asian Games
Silver 50 Fly 2023 World Championships
Bronze 400 Free 2014 Short Course World Championships
Gold 200 Fly 2021 Short Course World Championships
Bronze 400 Medley Relay 2021 Short Course World Championships
Bronze 50 Fly 2022 Short Course World Championships
Gold 400 Freestyle Relay 2014 Youth Olympic Games
Gold 400 Medley Relay 2014 Youth Olympic Games
Gold 400 Mixed Medley Relay 2014 Youth Olympic Games
Gold 400 Mixed Free Relay 2014 Youth Olympic Games
Silver 100 Fly 2014 Youth Olympic Games
Silver 200 Fly 2014 Youth Olympic Games
Gold 50 Free 2023 Asian Games
Gold 50 Fly 2023 Asian Games
Gold 100 Free 2023 Asian Games
Gold 100 Fly 2023 Asian Games
Gold 200 Fly 2023 Asian Games
Gold 400 Freestyle Relay 2023 Asian Games
Gold 400 Mixed Medley Relay 2023 Asian Games

Best Times

Course Event Time Date Meet
lcm 50 Free 24.15 07/30/23 2023 World Aquatics Championships
Fukuoka, Japan
lcm 50 Fly 25.05 07/29/23 2023 World Aquatics Championships
Fukuoka, Japan
lcm 100 Fly 55.62 09/29/20 2020 Chinese Championships
Qingduo, China
lcm 200 Fly 2:03.86 07/28/21 2020 Olympic Games
Tokyo, Japan
Zhang Yufei Swimming 2022 FINA 19th World Championships Budapest Budapest, Duna Arena 06/19/22 Photo Fabio Cetti Zhang Yufei (photo: Jack Spitser) Zhang Yufei (photo: Jack Spitser) Zhang Yufei (photo: Jack Spitser) Zhang Yufei (photo: Jack Spitser) Zhang Yufei Chinese national training camp U.C. San Diego (photo: Mike Lewis) Yufei Zhang 2016 FINA short course championships Windsor Canada (photo: Mike Lewis)