Sun Yang Will Only Swim Three Events at World Championships

Update: Sun Yang says on his Weibo account that he will swim the 800 free despite his coach’s comments.

In another stunning drop in what has become the topsy-turvy world of men’s distance swimming, Chinese swimmer Sun Yang will swim only three races at this month’s World Championships in Barcelona, according to local Chinese media.

A report by Xinhuanet quotes his current coach Zhang Yadong, under whom Sun Yang has been training in Hong Kong, as saying that Sun will swim only the 400 and 1500 at this summer’s World Championships. This was confirmed by the deputy head of the Chinese Swimming Association, who cited concerns about Sun’s training.

Despite those two both saying that Sun would not swim the 800 free, Sun says on his personal Weibo account that his schedule will be the 400, 800, and 1500 freestyles. The change comes apparently in confusion after Chinese officials submitted what they call a “preliminary lineup” that didn’t include Sun’s 800 free, but then after some public backlash, they allowed Sun into the 800 free.

He’ll also swim the 800 free relay.

That is stunning news for the man who was both the defending Olympic silver medalist in the 200 free.

Instead, he’ll focus on the 400, 800 and 1500 freestyles, where again there should be little competition even for a less-than-perfect-shape Sun.

Ryan Lochte’s advantage in the 200 free should grow (though rumor that France’s Yannick Agnel is re-entering that 200 free field could add some excitement there).

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DanishSwimFan
8 years ago

I wonder if Bobo is happy with this news, more chance for Agnel even with his disrupted training.

aswimfan
Reply to  DanishSwimFan
8 years ago

Bobo may be happy, but I am very unhappy.

bobo gigi
Reply to  aswimfan
8 years ago

Never happy when stars don’t swim against each other. The men’s 200 free was already in ruins. Hopefully Yannick will probably swim it. We’ll have a winner in 1.44! Anyway, Sun Yang or not, Yannick Agnel is the big favorite.

DanishSwimFan
Reply to  bobo gigi
8 years ago

Oh I totally agree, I would much rather see an in-form, well prepared Yang vs Agnel. You always want to see the top guys going head to head and not feel like someone won an event almost by default.

bobo gigi
Reply to  DanishSwimFan
8 years ago

If Mr Agnel wins in Barcelona it will not be by default because he’s by far the best in the 200 free. At his best he’s miles ahead of the others in this race. In London he was 1.79 seconds ahead of Tae-Hwan Park and Sun Yang. But I agree, it’s much better when the big names swim against each other.

Reply to  DanishSwimFan
8 years ago

but if he wins wiht 1.44 mid or high only.. it won´t be so convicing because of the abscence of Park Yang and maybe even Bieldermann

NoLochteFan
Reply to  DanishSwimFan
8 years ago

I don’t think Sun could take Yannick in the 200m Free even with the training interruptions. Also, we really don’t know what Sun’s training has been like. You really don’t hear much from the Chinese during the season other than when they swim in their nationals.

Has anyone heard how Sun’s training has been going?

aswimfan
8 years ago

What???

This is ridiculous, but apparently Sun Yang does not really care about his legacy.
Doesn’t he understand that one of the reasons that Hackett became the greatest disrance swimmer of all time was because he entered 200/400/800/1500 in the 2001/2003/2005 world championships, even though he knew he faced Thorpe, VDH, and Phelps in the shorter distances?

why is Yang making this decision?
i get it if he does not have a chance in 200 and 800, but he has good chance to win 800 and a fighting chance to win in the 200.

Before it was Agnel.
It seems like these great swimmers are afraid to lose or something.

Philip Johnson
Reply to  aswimfan
8 years ago

totally agree with you, maybe they are afraid to lose, or maybe they are just lazy. Not saying Sun or Agnel are slouches, but what happened to people like Phelps, Thorpe, or Hackett that wasn’t afraid of the competition and just went out there and raced?

Ledecky looks to fill that void and I still remember Park swimming the 100, 200, 400, 1500 and all three relays in 2010.

Winning medals is more difficult I understand as we are seeing more specialist, but Sun is in a league of his own! Hackett had to swim against the great Thorpe for goodness sake! Phelps had Crocker and swam in the era of Thorpe and PVH.

bobo gigi
Reply to  Braden Keith
8 years ago

What! Again a change? Now he again swims the 800?

aswimfan
Reply to  Braden Keith
8 years ago

Ok.. this makes more sense now.

I wished he’d dropped 800 rather than 200, but this is much better than not swimming both.

SwimFanFinland
Reply to  Braden Keith
8 years ago
Reply to  aswimfan
8 years ago

I agree, but for all we know this was the decision of the Chinese Federation and not of Yang himself. It seems like the Chinese Swimming Association (CSA) has been trying to control many aspects of his life since London. This might account for his lack of training and the constant bumping of heads between him and the CSA.

aswimfan
8 years ago

With his reduced schedule, I hope he’ll make up by breaking both 400 and 1500 WRs!!

pvk
Reply to  aswimfan
8 years ago

#3:39.99!

NoLochteFan
Reply to  pvk
8 years ago

3:41.25…3:39.99 is out of realms of possibility this year.

aswimfan
Reply to  NoLochteFan
8 years ago

I will be very happy with only 3:40.06

bobo gigi
8 years ago

What? Again, I must update my predictions of winners!
Men’s 200 free. 1. Yannick Agnel (if he swims it but it should be official in a few days)
Men’s 800 free. 1. Ryan Cochrane

aswimfan
8 years ago

With attitude like Sun Yang, I admire Hackett more and more.

In 2007, when Hackett was semi-retired and having had minimum preparation, he still went and swam in the 2007 worlds, finishing 2nd in 400 (silver behind Park), 5th in the 800 and 7th in the 1,500. He also swam 200 in the trials, but did not qualify.

And now only less than a year from his first gold medal olympics and he’s already taken much reduced schedule??

mcgillrocks
Reply to  aswimfan
8 years ago

you really have to appreciate the schedule hackett did

people always talk about phelps’s schedule being demanding (17 races in a week) and the toughest ever

phelps swam 5 individual events, but hackett swam four, and a total of 10 races. not only that, but four of those races were either 800 or 1500 meters long, so in some sense ought to count double or triple. it’s a very difficult schedule to attempt

Breastroker999
Reply to  mcgillrocks
8 years ago

Swimming the distance free events aren’t easy but racing multiple 4 IMs and 200 flys aren’t any easier. Plus, phelps had to swim semis for the 200 fly and 200 IM at the Olympics. But I’m getting off topic.

Sun yang might not have been working on his shorter distance training. I’d still like to see what he can do in the 200 free but it’s understandable if he doesn’t want to swim it.

NoLochteFan
Reply to  Breastroker999
8 years ago

Agreed…I don’t why people are making so much of swimming multiple freestyle events. The lineup of events that Phelps had endured for 12 years is much more difficult.

Reply to  Breastroker999
8 years ago

He is not working but his 200 from this year was 1:44:99 withouth being full tapered.. almost as fast as he was on OG.. I think he could go 1:44 low this year..

Bourdais
Reply to  aswimfan
8 years ago

You forgot (or perhaps didn’t know) that also in 2007, Hackett was the national champion in the 10K open water swim.

Hackett was a man amongst men. I was in attendance when Hackett swum the 1500m at the 2004 Olympics. He was not just sick. He was just over a bad case of the serious illness pneumonia, and had a partially collapsed lung, leaving him with dramatically reduced lung capacity. He should have been in bed, and yet he managed to win the 1500 against much younger guys and get silver in the 400 to Thorpe who almost lost. When he came out of the water, he looked like he was about to collapse. I don’t think I’ve respected any… Read more »

SwimFanFinland
8 years ago

For me this piece of news act as Sun Yang isn’t in perfect shape, not mentally and physically. McKeon has slight chances to beat Yang in 400m free. Yang’s victory in 1500m free is not a cast-iron outcome either. On the one hand lack of proper training will especially have its effect on longer distances, but on the other, Yang’s superiority in 1500m was so devastating that it might still be enough. This need to be pondered. 🙂

Tea
8 years ago

This is surprising, but I don’t see how anyone other than Sun Yang can pass judgment.
Maybe he feels he can go faster with fewer events.
Maybe the 400/1500 are his best bets at a world record.
Maybe he wants to challenge his PRs, and isn’t comparing himself to Grant Hackett.
Maybe he just doesn’t WANT to swim the 800 or 200. Natalie Coughlin has almost always swum fewer events than she could conceivably compete in – as long as the swimmer is happy with the decision, godspeed.

aswimfan
Reply to  Tea
8 years ago

There is a difference between “swimming in all events you can conceivably compete in” with “swimming in the events you have big chance to medal in”

Please don’t pull Coughlin comparison, because Coughlin actually swam 6-7 events constantly. Coughlin swam in all events where she had big chance of medaling, and there may have been one or two other events (such as 200 free where she may have won a bronze) that she dropped but those events interfered with the schedule of her main events.

In 2007 World championships, Coughlin swam 50 free, 100 free/back/fly and all three relays. The only event she dropped was 200 free where it was on the same night as 100 back. In 2008 Beijing,… Read more »

JM90
Reply to  aswimfan
8 years ago

Just out of curiosity, Why is there almost zero chance to break the 800 WR?

Reply to  JM90
8 years ago

that 7:32 from Zhang is crazy impossible.

He went out on 3:46 and returned on 3:45 (just to adjust.. he went out as fast an Ryan Napoleon 400 and returned as fast as Jordan Harrison, and that are the times number 7 and 4 this year on 400)

JM90
Reply to  Rafael Teixeira
8 years ago

Ahh I see, thank you is Zhang still around or was it a 2009 super suit one-off?

Tea
Reply to  Rafael Teixeira
8 years ago

Zhang is retired (not sure officially or de facto).
He had a definite suit swim, but also some health problems that knocked him out after 2010 (asthma I think?)

Reply to  Rafael Teixeira
8 years ago

In 2006 he showed some talent getting 3 silvers behind Park at asian games..
He got silver on 400 free on Beijing.

2009 was his shiny year.. but he went 3:46 on 2010 on Pan Pacific and 14:58 on 1500 with no suits already.. he also split 1:46 on 4×200 freestyle relay on 2011 worlds.. I would not call him just a suit swimmer.. but even with 2010 results which showed he got some speed.. he never got to be the promising one everybody expected by his 2006 results..

Tea
Reply to  aswimfan
8 years ago

Just as a point…
Coughlin never competed seriously outside the NCAA in the 200m back, even though she had a medal shot, and possible WR shot. In 2004, she did only the 100 back/100 free. This year, she’s doing only the 50 free/100 free – despite her versatility.

A career is not just measured in terms of medals won/records broken. Sometimes there are other factors at play, and I doubt Coughlin looks back at her career with many regrets (e.g. “What if I could have silvered in the 100 fly at 2005 worlds?”)

aswimfan
Reply to  Tea
8 years ago

Glad you pointed out the difference and finally saw the light:

Coughlin NEVER seriously tried the 200 m back.

WHILE

Sun Yang is the defending Olympics AND World silver medallist in 200 free
and textile WR holder and defending world champion in 800 free.

The equivalent of Sun Yang dropping 200 and 800 free would be like Coughlin dropping 100 free and 100 fly, NOT 200 back (which she never seriously tried).

aswimfan
Reply to  Tea
8 years ago

You wrote:

I doubt Coughlin looks back at her career with many regrets (e.g. “What if I could have silvered in the 100 fly at 2005 worlds?”)
—————————————————-

Oh BY THE WAY,

Coughlin DID swim in the 2005 World championships trials, finishing third behind Komizars and Desenza.

So Coughlin did not swim in the 2005 Worlds NOT because she didn’t want to, but because she did NOT QUALIFY.

8 years ago

Very disappointing. I just hope it’s not because of any physical problems or subpar preparation. Let’s hope he aims to break the world records, especially in the 400 meters. Also, Sun may consider the non-Olympic 800 meters to be less important, like Park who didn’t swim that event at the 2006 PanPacs where he won the 400 and 1500.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. 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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