“Oh YE, of little faith” is a biblical term which was often directed as disapproval towards the Disciples of Christ when they had any doubts about his divinity. How ironic is this ancient phrase as we now find ourselves in doubt of YE of China!
Are the Chinese swimmers, coaches and fans of Chinese swimming accusing the US youngsters of “doping” as they break into the world scene…? There is a certain Katie Ledecky, who in 2010 was swimming a mediocre 8:58.86 for the 800m freestyle, while the “accused” Ye Shiwen was winning the Asian Games in the 400 Individual Medley with a very strong 4:33.79! This of course just before heading off to win 2 silver medals at the World Championships (albeit, short course meters) in Dubai in December 2010. Ledecky went from 8:58.86 in 2010 to 8:19.78 at the 2012 trials…that’s a 39 second drop!!! Ye already swam a 4:33 in 2010 to a 4:28 in London, a 5 second drop in 2 years, seems reasonable. Furthermore, do you think the top breaststroke swimmers and coaches of a 1.3 billion person country like China have ever even heard of Scott Weltz?
Before we go totally off the charts with accusations and pointing fingers–maybe just some numbers and facts…this way all the people who just like to see their own comments posted on social media and/or on our wonderful website, will have more information to make a “POINT or COUNTERPOINT” (lol, eat your hearts out Gary and David).
Ye Shiwen was born in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, the 6th largest city of China. With a population of 8.7 million people (slightly larger than New York), she was detected very early as a promising swimmer. She started young–at 6 years of age, like so many young American, British, Australian, Russian, Canadian and Japanese swimmers. Now the difference. China is a communist country where many things are different and we just simply can’t understand. Have there been wrongdoings in the past…probably. We will never fully understand what it means to be an 8 year old “super-talent” in China, leave your family (or even forced away), train all day, everyday, and not expect to build some kind of small swimming machine! This is not a “needle in the haystack,” it is more a case of a “crochet hook in a small bail of hay.” Is it not reasonable to assume that with the numbers of people and swimmers and coaches and money in China…that this IS POSSIBLE!!
Then we have to address Ye and her training. She has been known to spend considerable amounts of time between China and Australia, training with the same coaches Down Under who have worked with other Chinese success stories. Chinese swimmers have even made their way west…to Dave Salo and Mike Bottom. Is it not possible that the Chinese swimmers actually talk to each other and exchange ideas about technique and training philosophies? Do you not think that once on a Chinese National camp, Wu Peng told Yang Sun, “Hey Sun, we did this really tough but awesome Mike Bottom workout…you should try it!” Have the western coaching personalities created their own monster…their own PHELPENSTEIN??
Do any of you remember Chris Martin of Florida Swimming fame? He was a very successful coach who moved his talents to the UK and Scotland for many years. Most recently he is running a program in Shanghai, China. Is there a relationship to some American-UK knowledge shared with the Chinese? Maybe we should know even more facts before all the accusations.
And now for that last 50 of Ye Shiwen–you know the one she out split Ryan Lochte. Any athlete out there has either read about, or even experienced “The Zone.” Is this the explanation for her super fast last 50? I don’t know. It is not the first time she has had an amazing freestyle leg on her Individual Medley, she performed the same magic last year at Worlds splitting 29.42 in the 200 to become World Champion (she also split 29.88 on the final 50 of her 400 IM to finish 5th). Even though the comparison Lochte vs. Ye is completely absurd, if they had turned together at the 350, for sure Ryan would win, and for sure he would swim 27 something, and for sure Mr. Phelps would have lost the untouchable 4:o3 World Record!
Chris Morgan is a swimming coach in search of the next pool, the next set, and the most creative workouts. Follow him on Twitter @swim4chris