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.
At a Summer Test Competition in the Shandong Province, Chinese 22-year-old Zhang Yufei blasted a 56.47 in the 100 fly. It’s Zhang’s first swim ever under 57 seconds and a personal-best by 0.8 seconds, though the meet isn’t technically official for records purposes.
If it were official, Zhang’s swim would put her #10 all-time. Only three women in history have broken 56 seconds: world record-holder Sarah Sjostrom (55.48), World Champ Maggie MacNeil (55.83) and 2012 Olympic champ Dana Vollmer (55.98).
Zhang’s new time would have placed her 3rd behind MacNeil and Sjostrom at last summer’s World Championships.
Zhang’s improvements could have a big impact on China’s 4×100 medley relay. At 2019 Worlds, China was 5th in the women’s medley relay, and a solid 3.6 seconds out of a medal. But Zhang’s split in that race (56.44) is about as fast as she went from a flat start this week. If she can improve on a 56.1 relay split from this week, she could join elite company. Just one swimmer (MacNeil) was 55 on a relay split at 2019 Worlds. the second-best split was American Kelsi Dahlia (56.1), and all three medal-winning relays were 56-low or better on fly.
With Yang Junxuan swimming very well in the 200 free this week, the anchor leg of the Chinese medley could also be rising. (Yang was 53.3 last summer but split 53.1 this week). The world record-holding Americans look almost unbeatable, and Australia and Canada look to have very well-rounded lineups in pursuit of minor medals. But China could be rising into outside medal contention in this race, thanks in large part to Zhang’s outstanding fly speed.
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