China sent teams to all eight of the World Cup
meets this year, although the most any one swimmer attended was three.
"Some of our swimmers might have a chance
at winning a category," said National Coach Zhang Xiong, "but
with only three meets it will be difficult. Many of the other countries
will attend four or more."
Zhang emphasized the overall youth of his team
this year and said that the World Cup is the perfect opportunity for the
younger, keener swimmers to gain valuable international experience.
"Many of the Olympians have taken time off,
and they may be slower to get back into it," he continued. "This
(1997) World Cup season is better than usual for the younger swimmers because
they are sharper and they can rise to the challenge of racing Olympians
and other international-calibre swimmers."
Zhang was very pleased with his swimmers' results
in Hong Kong and Beijing. He maintains that many of the Chinese swimmers
in Atlanta were not ready for the level of the competition, and that their
time will come at the next Olympics. There is a lot of work to be done,
and much of that work will be done "training through" successive,
"The World Cup is great for that," he
said. "The focus for us at these meets is really the competition."
To say the Chinese women did well by the exposure
would be an understatement. The first world record was swum by Xue Han in
the 50 breaststroke in Glasgow (30.88), and she bettered it yet again in
Gelsenkirchen (30.77). Butterflyer Limin Liu was impressive in the 100 (58.42)
and 200 (2:06.85), and IM star Yan Chen dominated the 200 and 400 at every
meet she attended, managing to tie for second place in the overall category.
Finally, Bin Lu made her comeback to international
competition after two years of training through a drug suspension.
Zhao Ge, coach of Limin Liu, was pleased not only with the Chinese performances, but also with the quality of the meets. "These meets are great experiences," he said in Glasgow, "and we'd like to see more World Cup legs in Asia. That would help us a lot."