China kicked off their spring National Championships meet today from Shaoxing with a notably different approach than at last year’s World Championship Trials. A total of 6 Olympic
Specifically, it looks like most of the field at this meet is going for simple qualifications rather than all-out tapers as they did last year, and that could lead to an even better performance at this year’s meet.
Li Xuanxu won the women’s 400 IM in 4:34.92, which is not a best time but is faster than she was at last year’s World Championship meet. Just behind her was the young, 16-year old Yi Shiwen in 4:35.17. Her primary focus is still the 200 IM, where she’s got the infamous kick, but I wouldn’t expect anything much better than a 2:09 at this year’s meet.
Wu Peng, one of the bigger names on this Chinese team, finished only second in his signature event the 200 fly with a 1:57.16. Keep in mind that he is one of the few swimmers who has ever beat Michael Phelps in the 200 fly, and after what we’ve seen from Phelps in the last 6 months, it doesn’t seem like that’s still on the table; however he’s saving most of his training for London in July.
He was bettered in this race by Chen Yin in 1:56.14. He will also be at a 1:54-low or better at the Olympics, so both of these men appear to clearly be slow-playing these trials.
In the men’s 200 breaststroke, Li Xiang took a big chunk out of what is one of the weaker Chinese National Records with a 2:11.67 – breaking the mark of Xue Ruipeng at the 2010 Asian Games in 2:12.25. That just barely snuck under the FINA Automatic qualifying time, and will make him the Chinese’s only entry in the event at the Olympics.
Men’s swimmer Zhang Fenglin is probably the only winner on this day who is not a medal contender, but he did make it onto the Olympic Team with a 1:57.39 – but he was more than a full second faster than last year’s Spring Nationals.
Sun Yang has not begun his meet yet, and don’t expect him to shatter any records (though he’s notoriously fast in-season, so 14:50 wouldn’t be a surprise).