China’s Li Bingjie Rips 3:51.30 for 400 Free World Record (Negative Split)


  • Thursday, October 27th – Saturday, October 29th
  • Beijing, China
  • FINA SC World Championships Qualifying Event
  • SCM (25m)
  • Results via Asian Media

Most of the world expected that the World Record in the women’s 400 free would be challenged this weekend, but maybe on Friday, not Thursday. While competing on day one of the 2022 Chinese Swimming Championships, Li Bingjie crushed a new World Record time of 3:51.30 in the women’s short course 400 freestyle.

The record took 2.6 seconds off the old mark ahead of the FINA World Cup Series in Indianapolis that begins on Friday. There, American Katie Ledecky, formerly the World Record holder in long course, will swim just her third-ever meet in short course meters.

Li’s effort easily overtook the previous World Record mark of 3:53.92 Australia’s Ariarne Titmus put up at the 2018 FINA Short Course World Championships.

Li handily beat the competition tonight in Beijing, with Tang Muhan getting to the wall in 3:59.82 for silver while Liu Yaxin rounded out the top 3 in 4:00.33.

What separated Li for the World Record swim was her incredible backhalf. While she was slower than Titmus at the 200 meter mark, the Chinese swimmer negative-split her race (faster on the second 200 than on the first). Titmus was about three seconds slower on the second 200 than she was on the first when she previously set the World Record.

While Li currently is training for the 800 free and Titmus is not, Titmus was training for the 800 when she broke the World Record in this 400 in 2018 – making Li’s relative closing-speed even more stunning.

Comparative Splits for Li’s swim:

By 50

Li Bingjie Ariarne Titmus
New World Record
Former World Record
50m 27.41 26.93
100m 29.31 29.15
150m 29.55 29.38
200m 29.61 29.91
250m 29.39 29.84
300m 29.25 29.73
350m 29 29.7
400m 27.78 29.28
3:51.30 3:53.92

By 100

Li Bingjie Ariarne Titmus
New World Record
Former World Record
100m 56.72 56.08
200m 59.16 59.29
300m 58.64 59.57
400m 56.78 58.98
3:51.30 3:53.92

By 200

Li Bingjie Ariarne Titmus
New World Record
Former World Record
200m 1:55.88 1:55.37
400m 1:55.42 1:58.55
3:51.30 3:53.92

Entering this meet, Li’s lifetime best in this 400 free event rested at the 3:55.83 she logged at the 2021 FINA Short Course World Championships. That gave the Chinese ace the gold medal ahead of runners-up Summer McIntosh of Canada and Siobhan Haughey of Hong Kong. McIntosh reaped silver in 3:57.87 while Haughey earned bronze in 3:58.12.

Li’s 3:51.30 tonight also overtakes the previous Chinese national record and Asian continental record, a time which stood at the 3:53.97 that teammate Wang Jianjiahe posted in 2018 during that year’s FINA World Cup. As such, Li hacked more than two and a half seconds off of that mark and more than four seconds off her own previous PB en route to clocking the new World Record.

Post-race, Li reportedly said, “I’m very excited now. I didn’t expect this time. I was thinking of 3:53 high so this is out of expectation.”

The end of Li’s race can be seen here.

Li is a two-time Olympic medalist, having won gold as a member of China’s World Record-breaking women’s 800m freestyle relay, as well as individual bronze in the 400m freestyle.

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1 year ago

No honour

1 year ago

Another Chinese doper oh goody

swim nz
1 year ago

3.49.8 @ world SC…..

Mark Schubert
1 year ago

Stop the BS and rumors. Chinese are contiuallly testing and a positivet test has extreme consequences for both the the coach and swimmer… permanent suspension… in my opinion the short course 400 free was one of the easiest records and will go down again at Melbourne. Remember this is SHORT COURSE which few have taken ir seriously.

crossover kick
Reply to  Mark Schubert
1 year ago

The man, the myth, the legend.

Demarrit Steenbergen
Reply to  Mark Schubert
1 year ago

Two things:
– the number of people doubting the cleanness of Chinese swimmers seems big only because they are loud

-are you directly training li?

Mark Schubert
Reply to  Demarrit Steenbergen
1 year ago

Yes, only the past nine weeks. AMAZING TRAINER!
The only major change was insisting on a continuous six beat not four crossover. She bought into it…

pool drain
Reply to  Mark Schubert
1 year ago

Aye bro thanks for posting this i was skeptical until i saw this. We need more coaches n ppl involved giving info on stuff like this. 3:51 out of nowhere at face value I don’t understand. 6 beat kick for a whole race, for a swimmer whose had relative consistency for a while, leading to a big breakthrough.. now that i can get behind!!!

BTW – When I say i don’t understand at face value: Its not a china thing or a race thing, its a lack of information thing. I see and track lots of improvements or training variables mostly for american swimmers /euro / pan pac, but china seems like a black hole for info. So again… Read more »

Reply to  Mark Schubert
1 year ago

The chinese have become very strict with their anti doping. An athlete can be banned permanently. A couple of years ago, some people in the government even suggested a jail sentence but that was scrapped as being too extreme and i agree.

However, china still sometimes gives athletes the benefit of the doubt like instances of ingesting contaminated food.

I was looking at the countries with the most doping positives measured as stripped medals in the history of the Olympics and believe it or not china has less doping positives than the united states. The fact that china is that low is quite incredible as china didn’t have the recourses to monitor their athletes doping at the national level in… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by carlo
1 year ago

Katie ledecky is far more suspiciuos
At one point in her teens she dropped like 20 seconds in the 1500 free.

Memma Eckeon
1 year ago

Amazing time drop. I just think that accusing someone of doping without proof is wrong.
There is history of doping in China and Russia for sure…but the American community seems to forget about there own cases of doping.

To me is baffling that the ones criticizing seem to forget people like Conor Dwyer for example?

Is it fair? Just imagine that this Chinese girl swam out of this world, like we’ve seen with Phelps, Milak, Lochte, Ledecky and so many others…

To me everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

1 year ago

You wouldn’t say so if KL or any non-Chinese/Russian swimmer did this. As the article stated, Li is a WR holder in 800FR relay and 400lcm olympic bronze medalist, not someone coming from nowhere.

Jay Ryan
1 year ago

no fina drug testing there

Reply to  Jay Ryan
1 year ago

If there’s no drug testing then the world record won’t be ratified but I doubt that’s the case.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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