Disclaimer: Blueseventy 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 blueSeventy Swim 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.
At the Asian Games, China’s Liu Xiang broke the world record in the women’s 50 back, a record with one of the odder histories in swimming’s record books.
From March of 2008 to July of 2009 (a period of 16 months that encompassed the explosion of full-body, rubberized ‘supersuits’), the women’s 50 back world record went down no less than 8 times, dropping from 28.09 to a wild 27.06. That was a worldwide explosion that saw seven women trade the record back and forth, including world records in both of the semifinals, then the final of the 2009 World Championships.
Then, from 2009 to August 2018, a period of more than 9 years, the record went completely untouched. In fact, after four women in the 2009 A final went 27.3 or better, only one single woman would even break 27.5 over the next three years. In the nine years since China’s Zhao Jing set the 27.06 world record in 2009, only two women had come within even a tenth of the record.
It’s an odd, and under-discussed, record. While the most outrageous supersuit records seem to reside in the 200 frees and 200 flys, the women’s back had persisted as one of the harder-to-challenge suit-era world records.
But China’s Liu broke through this week, going 26.98 for the first sub-27 swim in history. She’s the fastest swimmer since the supersuit ban by .13 seconds. Liu won her Asian Games gold by an amazing .7 seconds, absolutely obliterating a good field that included World champ Fu Yuanhui
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