On the first night of finals at the 2023 Asian Games, Pan Zhanle took a serious charge at the 100 freestyle world record, swimming a blistering 46.97.
With that swim, Pan became just the 5th man to break the 47 second barrier, setting new Asian and Chinese records en route to gold. It’s also the third-fastest textile time.
All-Time Top 5 Men’s 100 Free Performers (LCM)
- David Popovici (ROU) – 46.86, 2022
- Cesar Cielo (BRA) – 46.91, 2009
- Alan Bernard (FRA) – 46.94, 2009
- Caeleb Dressel (USA) – 46.96, 2019
- Pan Zhanle (CHN) – 46.97, 2023
Here's Pan Zhanle's 46.97 in the 100 free. If he cleans up that start, the World Record is TOAST. pic.twitter.com/pOKCc0cCvS
— Braden Keith (@Braden_Keith) September 24, 2023
Even with his focus on a home Asian Games, Pan finished 4th in this event at 2023 Worlds (47.43), about two-tenths off his then personal best 47.22. And remarkably, even though his time here was a massive personal best, Pan expressed after that the race was “a bit disappointing” as he was aiming for the world record.
Pan is 19-years-old, just a month older than the current world record holder David Popovici.
|Pan, Previous PB||Pan, 2023 Asian Games||Popovici, Current WR|
|100||47.22 (24.26)||46.97 (24.52)||46.86 (24.12)|
Comparing Pan’s times, you can see from the splits that the difference comes from the first 50. Here, he was out in 22.45, though he did pay for that opening speed on the back half of the race.
Pan and Popovici’s times showcase two different ways to swim the race. Pan jumped on the first 50 and hung on down the stretch. On the other hand, Popovici controlled the first 50–he wasn’t even leading at the turn during his record-setting swim–before scorching a 24.12 on the second 50.
There are a few question marks about this race in Paris–namely, will Popovici and Caeleb Dressel be back on top form. If they are, this has the potential to be the fastest Olympic finals in history, as they’ll be vying with Pan and Kyle Chalmers for the gold.
As the only one of the four to get under 47 seconds this year, Pan rides the hot hand into the Olympics–and with a clear objective in mind.
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