The 2015 Chinese Spring National Championships, which are a selection meet for Worlds (though not necessarily a binding one), began on Thursday in the metropolis of Baoji iin central China, a city of nearly 4 million residents. The long course meet is following the World Championships event schedule.
Sun Yang, still mired in lingering controversy from his doping suspension from a year ago, began the meet by taking the first event title up for grabs in the men’s 400 free, swimming 3:44.53. That ranks him 3rd in the world so far in 2015, and is half-a-second faster than he was to win the event at this same meet last year.
While Sun is looking for a rebound year, the once-juggernaut Chinese men’s distance swimming continues to deteriorate, and Sun was the only swimmer faster than 3:50 in the race.
In the same race for the women, Cao Yue swam 4:05.86 to win. That’s a new personal best for her. In late 2013, Yue stepped down from open water to the 200, 400, and 800 in the pool, where she excelled immediately at the country’s fall National Championship meet, but in 2014 she took a step back and earned only a single 800 free relay entry at the 2014 Asian Games. This swim makes her now by far the domestic front-runner in a discipline where, despite taking gold and silver at the Asian Games last year, China didn’t prove to be a threat to many nations outside of the continent.
Shao Yiwen took 2nd in 4:07.01, and Guo Junjun was 3rd in 4:07.34. Those two were also faster than the two Asian Games medalists from last season.
Full day 1 finals results below.
Day 1 top 3 finishers
Men 400 Free
Sun Yang 3’44″53
Li Yunqi 3’50″73
Yang Jintong 3’50″74
Women 400 Free
Cao Yue 4’05″86
Shao Yiwen 4’07″01
Guo Junjun 4’07″34
Men 4×100 FR
Women 4×100 FR