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Two World Records and One World Cup Record Bettered

Dec 3, 2001  - Camillo Cametti - FINA Press Commission Chairman

Shanghai - The fourth leg of the FINA Swimming World Cup series got underway with a clearcut victory from Russian sprinter Denis Pimankov in the men's 100 m freestyle, with 48.29 (963 points).

Sixteen-year old Chinese Yu Yang took an easy win in the women's 200 m freestyle, with 1:56.42, worth 991 points. She had clocked a faster time in Edmonton ( 1:55.93). Jie Lei Ju, an 18-year old girl from Shanghai, came in second place with 1:58.16, just 0.04 sec. ahead of Costa Rican Claudia Poll (29 years old).

A new World Cup record was established in the men's 50 m breaststroke by Russian star Roman Sloudnov, in 26.90. The previous record was held by Germany's Mark Warnecke, with 26.97. Sloudnov's time is worth 1002 points. Sloudnov exacted revenge from Fukuoka where he suffered defeat from Ukraine's Oleg Lisogor, who came in second place here, with 27.33 (later he won the 100 m IM, in 55.47, worth 949 pts). In third place, also with an excellent performance, 27.77, Da Qing Yu, a swimmer from Shanghai.

Predictably Xue Juan Luo collected a comfortable victory in the women's 100 m breaststroke, with 1:06.22 (993 pts), ahead of country mate Hui Qi, 1:06.95, with Sweden's Emma Igelstrom in third place, with 1:08.12.

James Goddard, from Great Britain's junior team, was the men's 400 IM surprise winner, 4:16. 88 (943 pts), ahead of Chinese Qiang Li Zi, 4:18.33, and Germany's Jirka Letzin 4:19.31.

Martina Moravcova (SVK) did not fail winning her first of the six events she is competing in this meet. She was always in the lead and her supremacy was never threatened. Johanna Sjoberg (SWE) came in second place with 58.50, while Jing Jing Sui, a young swimmer from Shanghai, was third in 59.56.

Croatia's Gordan Kozulj claimed victory in the men's 100 m backstroke, with 54.25 (929 pts), 0.20 sec. ahead of Chinese Rui Yu, 54.25. USA swimmer Michael Gilliam was only third, with 54.63.

The major highlight of the day came in the women's 50 m backstroke thanks to an almost unknown Shanghai swimmer, 16-year old Hui Li, who, in an all-Chinese final, smashed the world record, with the time of 26.83. Li, who features a fit-for-swimming body shape, improved her personal best by nearly two seconds, from 28.61.! Her techique was perfect in all stages of the race; she was particularly effective with the underwater dolphin kick. Her feat was saluted with great enthusiasm by both the crowd and the the 70 representatives of the Chinese media who are covering ths meet. The previous world record belonged to Haley Cope, of the United States, with 27.25 while the previous World Cup record had been set by Natalie Coughlin, also of the USA, at last week World Cup meet in New York. Li's time is worth 1034 points and puts Li in second place in the provisional World Cup standings, just behind Coughlin ( who scored 1039 points in the 100 m backstroke in New York). Chinese Shu Zhan and Chang Gao came in respectively in second and third place, with 27.82 and 28.00.

The next gold for China came in the men's 200 m butterfly, thanks to Hong Wei Wang, who won in 1:56.69 (953 pts) ahead of country mate Si Hua Wang (1:59.69).

Three Chinese swimmers filled the three first places in the women's 200 m individual medley. Hui Qi jumped ahead of the field from the start, swam always in front and won in 2:11.52 (978 pts). Wei Hui Shi was second in 2:12.68, with Tian Ruan in third place, in 2:13.04.

Another Chinese girl of the new breed , 17-year-old Xiao Wei Zhou, whon the 50 m freestyle, in 24.92 (969 pts) slightly ahead of Sjoberg , 25.06, and Moravcova, 25.14.

In the men's 200 m breaststroke Sloudnov got his second win, with 2:09.75 (976 pts), when he beat Jim Piper, of Australia, who touched in 2:10.24. Piper complained he had poor turns.

Chinese fans and media as well got excited again when Hua Chen, 19, won the women's 800 m freestyle in a world record time of 8:15.15 (splits: 59.48, 2:01.57, 3:04.07, 4:06.49, 5:08.94, 6:11.72, 7:14.59). This was an historical feat as the previous world record, of 8:15.34, dated back in 1987 and belonged to Astrid Strauss, of GDR, the former Democratic republic of Germany.

Chen swam a solitary race soon distancing herself from the group with powerful strokes. She said: ?This world record is no surprise to me, I am in good shape and I expected to beat it. I'm very happy and I only regret that my coach is in France at the moment but I'm sure he'll be happy too?. With this performance, worth 1009 points, Chen places herself in third place in the World Cup standings.

Chinese Jing Zhi and Jing Zhen, both 16, came in second and third place respectively, with 8:26.80 and 8:27.03.

China's imprint was also on the latest two events, the women's 200 m backstroke with Wei Ya Ma (2:10.80, 954 pts), and the men's 50 m butterfly with Qiang Zhang (24.10, 944 pts).

China took the lion's share also in the medal table with 10 golds, 10 silvers and 8 bronzes. Russia, with 3 golds and 2 bronzes came in second place, with Ukraine , 1 gold and 2 silvers, in third place.