Male Sprinters Put on a Show Thursday at Chinese National Games

Day 2 of the pool swimming portion of the 2013 National Games of the People’s Republic of China wrapped on Thursday, and included the first big surprise of the meet in the women’s 400 free.

Women’s 100 fly FINALS

The 100 fly, though, continued what we’ve seen for many years now in China. They’re still not very old, but Lu YingLiu Zige, and Jiao Liuyang have ruled roost in Chinese women’s butterflying for half-a-decade, and that was the finish order here at the National Games.

Lu took gold in 57.04, followed by Liu in 57.51 and Jiao in 58.04.

Younger than all of those four was perhaps some new blood: 21-year old Zhou Yilin from Heibei in 4th with a 58.18. She’s generally regarded as more of a 200 butterflier, and could be looking at something in the 2:06 or 2:07 range later in the meet based upon this swim.

Men’s 100 breast FINALS

In the second final of the night, the men’s 100 breaststroke, Xie Zhi put a big hurt into a National Record that was badly in need of breaking. He won the race in 1:00.31, which knocked four-tenths of a second off of the 1:00.73 with which he won the 2009 Asian Games.

China’s men’s relays have long lagged behind their women’s at the international level, but with now Xie seeming to live up to the potential in the breaststrokes that he had when he was younger, the China’s men’s medley should begin to greatly improve (they were only 10th at Worlds, failing to final).

Li Xiayan took 2nd in the race in 1:00.84, also just missing the old National Record, and giving the People’s Liberation Army their second of four medals Thursday, after not winning any on day 1. Mao Feilian took 3rd in 1:01.07.

Women’s 400 free FINALS

This swim was the biggest upset of the day, with Cao Yue from Shanxi taking the win in 4:03.11, beating out Zhang Yuhan from the People’s Liberation Army (4:04.38) and the Asian Record holder Chen Qian from Shandong (4:04.41).

Chen Qian was not only the record holder in the race, but the defending champion, all from the 2009 edition of this meet in front of a home crowd.

As we’ve seen a lot of in this meet, this victory was a very late-breaking one. Those top three sat nose-to-nose through 300 meters before Cao accelerated to the finish in a 58.6. Cao Yue’s time would have taken a bronze medal at Worlds, where China didn’t have a swimmer even close to finaling.

Men’s 400 free Relay FINALS

Sun Yang, on his second swim of the session, kept his quest for 7 gold medals alive, as Zhejiang cruised to an easy victory in 3:15.61. As the anchor, splitting 48.14, he was not even the star of this relay, however.

That honor belong to Lu Zhiwu, who led the Zhejiang men off in a 48.33, which is a new Asian Record. That broke the 48.49 that Japan’s Takuro Fujii did in 2009, in addition to Ning Zetao’s 48.60 from the National Championships in April as the Chinese Record.

Zetao may be ready to take that record right back, however, as he posted the most impressive sprint swim in Chinese history in this relay. Anchoring the silver-medal relay of the People’s Liberation Army, and trying in vain to chase down Sun Yang, he split a 47.24 (22.0-25.2) on the anchor leg. His relay came up 2nd in 3:17.80, while Beijing took 3rd in 3:18.50.

Full, live meet results available here (in Chinese).


  • As alluded to, that relay gold medal was Sun’s swim of the night, following the semifinal of the 200 free. There, he went a casual 1:48.09 for the top seed, with Li Yunqi (1:48.76) and Xu Qiheng (1:48.98) not far behind. In his 400, we saw Sun play the preliminary rounds very easily as well, so expect him to turn up the speed in finals (though, the result shouldn’t be anything too special regardless). He’s done a good job, on a long schedule, to conserve quite a bit of energy.
  • In the women’s 100 breast semifinal, Zhao Jin took the top seed in 1:08.24, but this will be a very crowded final. The top 8 swimmers and finalists were separated by only nine-tenths of a second. That includes the 2nd seed Liu Xiaoyu from the hosts Liaoning in 1:08.40 and the 3rd seed Shi Jingling from Jiangsu in 1:08.43.
  • In the men’s 100 back semifinal, Xu Jiayu put up an early statement in 53.85 for the top seed over the Chinese National Record holder Cheng Feiyi in 54.42. In the least, this gives Zhejiang a shot at the men’s 400 medley relay, and at the most it could be another big upset. The battle should be basically between those two, as Zhang Yu from Beijing was well back with a 54.92 for the 3rd seed.
  • In the women’s 100 backstroke, Fu Yuanhui gave Zhejiang another top seed as they continue their overall dominance of this meet. She swam a 59.36 for the top seed in the women’s 100 back, doing most of her work on the front half (28.6-30.7).She was the only swimmer under a minute, topping Liao Yali from Hunan in 1:00.39 and Zhao Jing from Hubei in 1:00.76. Jing was one of the few Chinese swimmers who really performed well at Worlds, taking gold in the 50 back in her only individual swim of the meet.

Medal Standings

Though the People’s Liberation Army and Shanghai both had very good days, Zhejiang continues to top the medal table with 4 golds: over half of those awarded in the competition so far.

Gold Silver Bronze Total
Zhejiang 4 0 1 5
Shanghai 2 2 0 4
Yunnan 1 0 0 1
Shanxi 1 0 0 1
Army 0 3 1 4
Hunan 0 1 2 3
Hibei 0 1 0 1
Liaoning 0 1 0 1
Beijing 0 0 2 2
Henan 0 0 1 1
Shandong 0 0 1 1

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Call it the Juiced Nationals. I’d guess 95% of these athletes are doped.


How about you keep your enlightening thoughts to yourself? Got proof incriminating any of these athletes? No? Then shut up.


Paul, You apparently like to see the good in people. Although I have no proof of doping with Chinese athletes, I will try to explain the other side of the argument. 1. There are huge financial incentives put on states/clubs/athletes at the Chinese Nationals for medals. If you read below, there is apparently a $100,000 purse for winning an event at the nationals not to mention the bonuses, cars, etc. that a state/club/athlete will receive by performing well. Look no farther than the United States to see what happens when athletes have the potential to make a lot of money. Marion Jones? Lance Armstrong? Barry Bonds? Tiger Woods? Alex Rodriguez? Sami Sosa? I’ll save my breath as the list goes… Read more »


From that other swim news site-

I do wonder if Chinada has its suspicions of certain athletes juicing back in provinces, and they’re the reason why we sometimes see a fast swim at a selection meet passed over in favor of a slower known international team participant when it comes to picking Olympic/Asian Games/ World Championships teams. China’s federation may not be able to prove something, but they don’t have to be transparent like USOC members do or have hard selection rules, so they can quietly refuse to select someone in order not to risk losing face in the bigger swim community ala Perth or Rome.


That is indeed true. A well known example is Zhang Liang who won women’s 200, 400 and 800 freestyle in the 2001 National Game, all in top times. Her form dropped precipitously after the Game and never represented China in any international championship. Chen Qian who broke women’s 400 and 800 freestyle Asian record in the 2009 National Game has never regained her outstanding form. Although she did swim on some of the relay team and set a short-course relay world record in 2010. China’s selection mechanism put great emphasis on international achievements (ability to produce great times at international meets). That is why Liu Zige was selected over Gong Jie at London Olympics.


These times are outrageous relative to Worlds results.


In terms of level of domestic competition, this is the Chinese equivalent of US Olympic Trial. Hope that puts the competition into some perspective.


If this was the Chinese equivalent of the Olympics, I’d still say they’re outrageous. Why do we always see these kind of times around this time of year from Chinese swimmers, who often fail to replicate the results in international competition?


According to commentry of the World Championships on either the BBC or Eurosport (can’t remember which) it’s because there is massive financial incentive to perform at the National Games. So much so in fact that the majority of the Chinese team chose to taper for the National Games instead of the World Chamionships (I’m being totally serious).

Philip Johnson

Very outrageous. And I’m not buying the federation would put more emphasis towards these games than Worlds, doesn’t make sense. On day one, they could of had a medalist in the 400 IM and the 400 free had they swum those times in Barcelona.


The reason why times here are far faster (on average) than in international competition is because the Chinese swimmers have tapered for the national games, not Worlds. Domestic rewards are about 100,000 USD per win, not including bonuses such as state-guaranteed property and cars and allowances etc. Only the Olympics are higher than the national games, and for the majority of the Chinese swimmers this is far more important both in terms of prestige and financial reward.


Ok, I guess that’s a fair explanation, but it’s all pretty annoying from a swim fan’s perspective haha…

HKSwimmer, can you tell us anything about Cao Yue? Where did she come from? From what I can tell, she’s 18 and her pb in the 400 was a 4:18 in June.


No idea about Cao Yue – I know some of the PLA/Guangdong/Zhejiang coaches but not much had been mentioned about her beforehand, so I’m (pleasantly albeit slightly suspiciously) surprised

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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