Shen, Qiu on 1:55, Ai, 14, on 1:56; Zhang 1:57 Flat: China Guns For Olympic 4×200 Gold

Shen Duo and, inset, Qiu Yuhan (CNNews TV stills)

Shen Duo and Qiu Yuhan led the Chinese charge into the realms of Olympic gold contenders in the 4x200m freestyle with a pair of 1:55sec efforts 0.02sec apart on day 4 at Chinese Championships and Olympic Trials in Foshan. Shen, of Jiangsu, on 1:55.82, and Qiu, of Liaoning, on 1:55.84, the speed curve did not end there: just one other made it below 1:57: 14-year-old Ai Yanhan, of Hubei, on the fastest time for anyone of her age in history, 1:56.46; Li Zhuhao clocks 1:55.5 for 200 fly crown; and Ning Zetao* cracks 48 in 100m frees semis

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Considering Katie will dive in with them at the 600 then split 1.52 I personally think USA is the clear fav for the Gold. Not only that the Aussie girls have had a pair of 1.55s already this who will probably go faster this week with a few girls not far behind so I think it’ll be a scrap for silver and bronze between those 2 nations

Craig Lord

felixdp, the article states “at this stage” – not even you can know what’s going to happen a few days from now, let alone in late June…



I agree.
IMHO, Ledecky/USA will be 10 metres in front, and China/AUS will fight for silver.
Although this would mean that some people will get heartbroken as they have fantasy of USA/Italy/Sweden to fight for gold to the very end.

Craig Lord

aswimfan – you’re all too jumpy – 10m, I doubt it…. the picture is far from complete… and that 14 years old could be on a 1:54 flat by August given that China will target specific events… as it has done for a while now.


I was exaggerating of course 🙂
But you are right about China targeting specific events, and from history, they are always serious about relays.
We will see the full picture after US trials of course, but current my predictions still stands: USA for gold and CHN/AUS for the minor medals.

Craig Lord

You may well be right aswimfan 🙂 … I shall wait a while longer; what I write is for the day, the moment – and as things stand CHN has the fastest foursome on paper with a combined promise of world-record pace.

Dan smith

I don’t think Ai yanhan will be swimming 1:54 by August. 1:55 maybe. Although at 14 she has potential. The most likely Chinese swimmer that could swim a 1:54 is probably shen duo but this was her first time dippling below 1:56, same with qiu yuhan but I pick shen duo to maybe, I said maybe swim 1:54 over qiu yuhan because of her build. She has more of a swimmer,s build.

Shen duo 6 feet tall with long wingspan, large feet

qiu yuhan 5,9 tall with average wingspan.

I have no idea how tall Ai yanhan is. She,s a newcomer.

Craig Lord

Our reader Zhen, Dan, suggests that Ai is tall, lanky, long-limbed and skilled, by the sounds of it. I’d be surprised if she goes 1:54, too – but then I wouldn’t have expected Ye Shiwen to finish the 400IM in 58.6 for a 4:28 WR at 16 either (and am still at a loss to find any reasonable explanation for that swim).

Ron Turner

Ai is not terribly tall, but is def lanky. Her stroke is super efficient, almost like a 1500 swimmer, but has a driving kick! Having coached Shen Duo, she does have some height, big hands and feet as Dan suggests, but has a LOT of work to do on her turns. If she can improve those quickly, she should easily be 1:54 in Rio…

Christopher Chow

I just checked some Chinese media reports about Ai Yanhan. She was said to stand 1.67m (which means slightly shorter than 5’6″) as of July 2015, but probably she has grown taller after that.

She actually travelled to Kazan as an alternate last year (but didn’t get to swim ultimately).


If it was easy to fix certain flaws, the elite would have made those corrections long ago. How long have we been talking about issues with C1’s free and Missy’s back starts at this point?

Craig Lord

Thanks Christopher – no alternatives without a swim this summer (or DQ under new rules…)

Craig Lord

Thanks v much, Ron, appreciate the info.

Dan smith

I was actually looking forward to what the Canadian women can put up in the 800 free relay but am surprised by the Chinese. I,m stll looking forward to the Canadian 200 free trials.

there,s Brittany MacLean who just swam a 4:03 in the 400 free.

Emily overholt
Taylor ruck and
Penny oleksiak


Yes, Canada will have to be seriously taken into account in 4×200 medal conversation basing on the first couple of days of the Canadian trials.
We’ll see how 200 free final will look like there.

Jay Jenkins

Are we sure that Ai is 14? Some reports have her at 16

Craig Lord

Yes Jay, according to Chinese sources… her Weibo account states her birthday as February 2002 – and Chinese readers have confirmed it, as have two people at the meet in Forshan


Also the aquatic super series in Perth (January or early February this year) listed Ai Yanhan as being 13 yo. So 14 yo must be correct now.

Zhen Sun

Ai is not that tall, probably slightly taller than 1.7m.

By the way, the inset picture is Guo Junjun, not Qiu Yuhan. Guo is last year’s runner-up (though most people expected Qiu to win it) but probably cannot make the team this year.

Craig Lord

Zhen… that’s very funny … a vast archive of relay photos from many sources – all seem to have the wrong names against the swimmers (it reminds me of the days when China used to send the wrong athlete to the podium to receive medals – but that wasn’t so funny)… photo now correct…

Zhen Sun

Great you find the right Qiu!

Just checked the podium pictures I think Ai is just about 1.7m, which makes her slow stroke rate even more impressive.

Zhen Sun

I find last night’s full match video. It’s from the live streaming. Quality is bad, just for those who are really interested to get a glance of the actions.


Thanks Zhen Sun.. keep sending info about Chinese swimming!

Craig Lord

Thank you, Zhen. Appreciated

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