LIVEBARN Race of the Week: Pan Zhanle Torches 46.97, Scares 100 Freestyle World Record

And then there were five.

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)

  1. David Popovici (ROU) – 46.86, 2022
  2. Cesar Cielo (BRA) – 46.91, 2009
  3. Alan Bernard (FRA) – 46.94, 2009
  4. Caeleb Dressel (USA) – 46.96, 2019
  5. Pan Zhanle (CHN) – 46.97, 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.

Split Comparison: 

Pan, Previous PB Pan, 2023 Asian Games Popovici, Current WR
50 22.96 22.45 22.74
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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Fukuoka Gold
2 months ago

Excellent technique.

Can’t wait what he can do in Paris.

2 months ago

I’ve read that Pan Zhanle defines himself as an hardworker (he trains 6 days per week, around 12 km per day) and there’s no doubt that his improvement curve looks steady: 48.74 at Nats in May 2021 (when he swam also the 1500 free), 47.65 at Worlds in June 2022, 47.22 at Nats in May 2023, 46.97 at Asian Games in September 2023. There are still aspects he may improve in his 100 free, so I think that next year he’ll be between 46.5 and 46.7.

2 months ago

Very nice

2 months ago

His trajectory is quite astounding:
2021 (17) All China games high 48 (his first 100m national competition ever)
2022 (18) Budapest high 47
2923 (19) Fukuoka mid 47
2023 (19) Hangzhou high 46/low 47
2024 (20) Paris ???

Reply to  Jordan
2 months ago

Is 45 out of the question

Swim Alchemist
Reply to  Kabes
2 months ago

No, dream big.

About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

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