Disclaimer: Dolfin 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 Dolfin 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.
It’s not the event she’s known for. It’s not even the right stroke. But Ye Shiwen has transformed into 2019’s best 200 breaststroker.
The Chinese swimmer is, of course, best known for her breakout world record and Olympic gold medal 400 IM from the 2012 London Olympics. At the age of 16, Ye crushed a legendary freestyle leg to win that race in 4:28.43, shattering the world record by more than a second. It took four years for anyone to break that record.
Since that race, Ye hasn’t even broken 4:32 in the 400 IM, and hasn’t won another Olympic or World Championships medal in long course. She started a career resurgence with two golds at the 2014 Asian Games, but may have found a new avenue for future success at last weekend’s FINA Champions Series.
Ye went 2:22.53 in the 200 breast – a career-best by a wide margin, as well as the fastest time in the world this season by almost half a second. Ye’s time would have finaled at 2017 Worlds, and gives her a realistic medal shot this summer or even next, if she continues with the event.
Ye is now 23, and nearly seven years removed from her Olympic gold medal swim. But in a sport where youth stars are ever-present on the girls side – and don’t always continue to be stars into their 20s – Ye is finding a way to stay relevant and reinvent herself.
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