Chinese Women Earn 4×200 Freestyle Victory In World Record Fashion

2020 TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

In an absolute whirlwind of a race, the Chinese women delivered a new world record in the women’s 4×200 freestyle to take gold at the Tokyo 2020 Games. China took gold in a 7:40.33 and was joined on the podium by the Americans in a 7:40.73 and the Australians with a 7:41.29.

Splits Comparison

Australia – Tokyo 2020 Australia – Gwangju 2019
1 Yang Junxuan (1:54.37) Ariarne Titmus (1:54.27)
2 Tang Muhan (1:55.00) Madi Wilson (1:56.73)
3 Zhang Yufei (1:55.66) Brianna Throssell (1:55.60)
4 Li Bingjie (1:55.30) Emma McKeon (1:54.90)
7:40.33 7:41.50

Australia’s former world record in the event stood at a 7:41.50 which they posted at the 2019 World Championships to take out the 10-year-old mark set by the Chinese in 2009 of 7:42.08. Now that China has taken back the world record and has re-claimed the top spot in the event. Not only did the Chinese team crack the former Australian mark but both the silver medal-winning Americans and bronze medal-winning Australians got under the time as well.

The top 3 times from Tokyo 2020 now make up the top 3 times in history while Canada’s 7:43.77 for 4th place is the all-time 11th best swim.

Country Event Time
1 China 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games 7:40.33
2 USA 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games 7:40.73
3 Australia 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games 7:41.29
4 Australia 2019 World Championships 7:41.50
5 USA 2019 World Championships 7:41.87
6 China 2009 World Championships 7:42.08
7 USA 2009 World Championships 7:42.56
8 USA 2012 Olympic Games 7:42.92
9 USA 2016 Olympic Games 7:43.03
10 USA 2017 World Championships 7:43.39
11 Canada 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games 7:43.77
12 Australia 2018 Pan Pacific Championships 7:44.12

Considering that all 3 of the podium finishers were under the previous world record, a number of national and continental records were broken as well. China’s swim was an Asian record and Chinese record, improving upon their 7:42.08 from 2009. The United States lowered the Americas record, the North American record, and the American record of 7:41.87 from 2019, and the Australian’s broke the Commonwealth, Oceanian, and Australian record of 7:41.29.

The Chinese team got an early lead in the heat as Yang Junxuan opened with a 56.02 for China which was just ahead of Ariarne Titmus‘ 56.18 for Australia. Titmus was actually 3rd place at that point, however, as Canada’s Summer McIntosh notched a 56.10 to start. At that point, the USA sat in 4th with a 56.70 from Allison Schmitt.

By the end of the first 200 meters, McIntosh had held off Schmitt to get the Canadas into 3rd place while China’s Junxuan retained her lead with a 1:54.37 200. Titmus followed with a 1:54.51 for the 2nd position.

China and Australia passed the lead back and forth over the 2nd and 3rd legs from Tang Muhan and Zhang Yufei and Emma McKeon and Madi Wilson, respectively. That was until US anchor Katie Ledecky dove into the pool and started gunning it home. Ledecky managed to chase down Aussie anchor Leah Neale, out-splitting Neale’s 1:55.85 with a blistering 1:53.76. Ledecky nearly managed to chase down China’s Li Bingjie for the gold medal but fell just 0.40 seconds short.

One of the most impressive performances in the 4×200 freestyle field came from Zhang Yufei who split a solid 1:55.66 to contribute to China’s gold medal win. What makes Yufei’s relay leg so impressive is that she did so in the same session that she won gold in Olympic-record fashion in the women’s 200 butterfly. Yufei threw down a 2:03.86 to deliver the fastest time in the event in 12 years since Liu Zige’s 2:01.81 world record in 2009.

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Verram
1 month ago

Ariarne Titmus choked .. I hate to say it

SuperSwimmer 2000
Reply to  Verram
1 month ago

She looked tired.

Verram
Reply to  SuperSwimmer 2000
1 month ago

Meanwhile Katie Ledecky swam 2x 1500’ free on top of same events as Titmus and still pulled off a 1.53s leg for them

Troyy
Reply to  Verram
1 month ago

Titmus is obviously not Ledecky.

Verram
Reply to  Troyy
1 month ago

Titmus can def swim.. but something happened with her mentally before that relay .. maybe she caught the Elijah bug

Troyy
Reply to  Verram
1 month ago

Nah, she’s fatigued and you’ll see in the 800 that it’s true. Maybe the interrupted training is catching up with her.

Cate
Reply to  Verram
1 month ago

I think you forgot the 200free. She swam more than one event on that day. Ledecky looked tired in that race. You need to have a memory that lasts longer than a day.

Verram
Reply to  Cate
1 month ago

You’re not making sense .. maybe save that memory of yours for other worthwhile explanations

Cate
Reply to  Verram
1 month ago

I’m making perfect sense. Titmus was having the same issue in the relay as Ledecky had in the 200free. Both swam multiple events and were tired. There was no choking going on, by Titmus. There was no Elijah bug.

Yozhik
Reply to  Verram
1 month ago

It can be that extremely tense 400 race was costly for both swimmers. Ledecky took timeout in individual 200 but her 1500 wasn’t very convincing. Titmus had strong competition with Haughey and had very strange splits. Maybe she wasn’t recovered yet completely after such strong competition in 400 and 200 back to back challenging races.
And also two months ago I wouldn’t call 1:54.5 chocking.

Tyson
Reply to  Verram
1 month ago

I agree she didn’t look strong

Last edited 1 month ago by Tyson
N80m80
1 month ago

Yufei’s double and performance in both events is astounding and honestly the most impressive of the meet so far

Njones
Reply to  N80m80
1 month ago

3:59 for 400m, half fly and half free and hour later;)

Steve
Reply to  N80m80
1 month ago

Sorry but dubious result…anchor Li Bingjie goes 1:59 in the 200 free and can’t make it out of the heats. Then swims 1:55.30 with such power in the final 100? And Tang is unknown and goes 1:55 flat? Come on now…juice in the pool There’s a scientific reason all the headlines read ‘shocker’.

Dude
Reply to  Steve
30 days ago

Li Bingjie had a brutal schedule: https://olympics.com/tokyo-2020/olympic-games/en/results/swimming/athlete-profile-n1311341-li-bingjie.htm. She swam the 400m free final, 200m free heat and 1500m free heat ON THE SAME DAY. She won a bronze in the 400m free in the morning and then swam the 200m free and 1500m free that same night within 2 hours of each other. She was probably already exhausted by the time she swam the 200m and just decided to take it easy to conserve energy for the 1500m.

Tang is 17 years old. Most 17 year olds swimming in their first Olympic are “unknown”. Perhaps we just saw the debut of a future star. Also, she finished 5th in the 400m free… Read more »

Willswim
1 month ago

Yeah but did they get EIGHT bronze medals?

SAMUEL HUNTINGTON
1 month ago

2:03 and 1:55 is incredible – outstanding performance by Yufei.

Fraser Thorpe
Reply to  SAMUEL HUNTINGTON
1 month ago

Within what? An hour? It was super impressive, mentally and physically.

Joe
1 month ago

“steal from Aussies”: they got third!

Inside Smoke
Reply to  Joe
1 month ago

I would assume that is in reference to the Aussies holding the WR before tonight, not the race results

zainol
Reply to  Joe
1 month ago

i dont understand why put leah neale in last leg utterly ridiculous decidion by coach
line up shld be mckeon, harris, Callaghan and titmus

Troyy
Reply to  zainol
1 month ago

Not Harris. She added over a second to her trials time in the heats.

Last edited 1 month ago by Troyy
Jabe
Reply to  zainol
1 month ago

So they have to field every athlete in the games. Leah was there for the relay. She didn’t have other events. In Australian trials – the top four were the four fielded. Putting her last was confusing but as a young athlete maybe the logic was that she could then swim her own race with the others trying to cement it earlier. Ariane was 1st with a chance to get a WR in the 200 free.

It didn’t turn out, Millie OC would’ve been a better choice but the heat line up made that not an option.

I’d have put Leah in the heat, but she got 4th in trials so …..

zainol
Reply to  Jabe
1 month ago

thanks and noted

Njones
Reply to  zainol
1 month ago

Agreed but Neale swam well. Titmus and McKeon were off…

KatyJ
Reply to  Joe
1 month ago

USA rely on Ledecky, without her struggling to medal

MarkB
Reply to  KatyJ
1 month ago

Yes, it’s too bad the US relies on the greatest female swimmer ever. It reminds me of when the US used to use guys named Phelps and Lochte on relays. Why would they do that?

Queen Simone
1 month ago

Yufei did that

juddy96
1 month ago

Absolute shame for Rebecca Smith, 1:55.99 in prelims and 1:57.30 in finals. Could’ve gotten Kayla and Penny more motivated to chase down the field had she been closer. Not always clear that when someone puts up a good swim in the relay prelims they have to be in the final.

Bill G
Reply to  juddy96
1 month ago

Smith was 3rd at Cdn Trials in June and had the fastest prelim split last night in Tokyo. How do you pick someone else?

juddy96
Reply to  Bill G
1 month ago

Wasn’t really referring to Canada, but more of the “Mollie O’Callaghan definitely would’ve went faster” crowd. We didn’t have much of a choice but others did.

Bill G
Reply to  juddy96
1 month ago

Aha! I’m picking up what you’re putting down now.

CanSwim
Reply to  juddy96
1 month ago

To be fair, Kayla went 1:55.3, her lifetime best flat start is 1:57.2 (trials) and her best relay split is 1:59.3 (2018). She did amazing. Penny would have had to drop a WR to catch the field. Sure, adding 1.3 from heats is not good, but even if she had done her prelim time AND Penny went a 1:54.0 they would still be 4th. The missing piece here was Taylor Rucks best relay split of 1:54.0 from 2018. China swam lights out, hats off to them.

Njones
Reply to  juddy96
1 month ago

Of course she and everyone would have loved for her to match her impressive prelim split. But at 157.3 no one else would have been a suitable replacement. Harvey did a great job with her 157 helping the prelim squad but you wouldn’t put her ahead of Smith in this case.
As someone else said the only ‘dream’ scenario for Canada is that Ruck would have been or still can (2022-24) reclaim her 2018 154 form to add to the depth and speed of this amazing group of 200 freestylers.
Look at Canada options now, it took a 155 prelim split to MAKE the finals team, a 157 wasn’t fast enough! The future is bright…

its ya bouy
1 month ago

The Aussie coaches made every wrong decision for this race. Neale shouldn’t have swam in the final and she definitely should not have swam the anchor. I cannot understand why they didn’t anchor with Mckeon considering she’s arguably the most experienced on the team, the second fastest and it would’ve given her slightly longer to recover from the 100 free. Titmus obviously very disappointing lead off leg, but the real fault lies with the Australian coaching staff. Neale should’ve swam prelims and Throssell or Cook should’ve missed out.

Verram
Reply to  its ya bouy
1 month ago

They got too cocky in this event.. the selectors that is .. but also Ariarne also didn’t perform to her usual levels even Leisel Jones noticed she was nervous looking behind the blocks

its ya bouy
Reply to  Verram
1 month ago

Our arrogance definitely killed us here. As painful as it is seeing the Americans mock us for choking, we deserve it. Love that the first Olympics where our swimmers step up and avoid choking themselves (for the most part), the coaches step in and do it for us ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Verram
Reply to  its ya bouy
1 month ago

Couldn’t agree more .. my bigger concern though is how would this “shock loss” affect the morale of the team moving forward in the meet .. I think the women’s 100 free tomorrow night with Emma again swimming would speak volumes

its ya bouy
Reply to  Verram
1 month ago

I wouldn’t expect Emma to suffer from it too much. Arnie i think will take the biggest hit

Verram
Reply to  its ya bouy
1 month ago

Let’s hope so !! I do hope they see the bronze medal as a “good thing” than a negative thing to have lost the gold medal .. it’s still an Olympic medal I suppose

zainol
Reply to  Verram
1 month ago

verram can you tell me which line up should be for oz mix relay
it shld be mc keown, stublety cock, mc keon and chalmer or any idea

Jabe
Reply to  its ya bouy
1 month ago

Emma will be fine. Ariane has achieved so much – the 800 has huge depth. It wouldn’t be a shock reveal if she didn’t win.

David
Reply to  its ya bouy
1 month ago

Yeah, the real shock isn’t here, it’s not choking everywhere else haha

Troyy
Reply to  Verram
1 month ago

Probably nervous because she knew she was fatigued and they were expecting something big from her.

Robbos
Reply to  Troyy
1 month ago

All the more reason why they didn’t time trial the 4×200 just like the did the 4X100, just like they did with the Men’s 4×200, when they knew Winnington was struggling & ended up not swimming the final despite being top swimmer in the individual.
We had all this talk that 4x 100 b team would got silver medal, well the 4X 100 team had 2 members backing up.

Drama King
Reply to  Verram
1 month ago

I think she knew that she had to pull all her strength to that race. Obviously she wasn’t confident about that relay team or order.

Going for individual medal is something , but putting whole your team’s dreams on your back is another thing. Yesterday , i heard in some thread , that she said she was fatigue.

I was confident that, If she was in that anchor leg, she will chase down and go on sub 1.54 split.

Team administration should take the responsibility for sure. They overestimated themselves and underestimated others.

zainol
Reply to  Drama King
1 month ago

thanks verram i agree with you, coach decisions utterly stupid
when i see titmus swim first, then mc keon, i know oz will lost gold medal
poor swim from neah

Jabe
Reply to  its ya bouy
1 month ago

I’m not disagreeing. But Leah was 4th in the Australian trials. And if trials mean something then it was a fair choice. Anchor was confusing but I get the logic