The second leg of the 1997 FINA Swimming World Cup took place in Beijing, Jan. 8 - 9, where the temperatures bottomed out at -12°C, a big change from balmy Hong Kong! Over 300 swimmers, of which just over 200 were Chinese, flocked to the Ying Dong Swimming Pool, the facility built for the 1990 Asian Games. World Cup host nations have the right to invite club teams to compete, so in addition to their national team, China had seven club teams in attendance.
The Chinese put in strong performances, with two
world record-holders dominating their specialties. Xue Han won the 50 breaststroke
in 31.72, which was over her record time of 30.98, done last year at this
meet. Limin Liu, world record-holder in the 100 butterfly, won the event
in an impressive 59.07. Her coach, Ge Zhao, says that the Beijing World
Cup is becoming very important for Chinese swimmers.
"Our weakness is that we seldom have chances
to swim in international competitions, especially during this season,"
he said. "We are starting to use the World Cup competitions more for
this reason. Our swimmers have the chance to do well here and that is encouraging
Continuing their streaks from Hong Kong, Claudia
Poll (200 freestyle), Sion Brinn of Jamaica (100 freestyle), Adrian Radley
(100 backstroke), and Denis Silantiev of the Ukraine (200 butterfly), won
their respective races yet again, giving them a good lead in the point standing
for their categories.
It was a night of glory for China on the second
night as swimmers from the host nation won 11 out of a possible 17 gold
Here are the highlights:
Ying Shan set the pace in the first event, winning the 100 freestyle in 54.27. Xue Han proceeded to come tantalizingly close to her own world record in the 50 breaststroke (30.98), winning in 31.00.
The Chinese went 1-2-3 in the 400 individual medley,
with Yan Chen victorious in a time of 4:40.5. The versatile Chen followed
with a third place finish in the very next event, the 100 backstroke, ranking
her first overall in the women's Backstroke category. The end of the night
saw her placed second in the 100 individual medley.
Continuing the Chinese winning streak, Luna Wang
had a brilliant race in the 400 freestyle, edging out Poll to win the event
The evening was not without top-ranked performances
by other athletes: Nina Zhivanevskaya of Russia swam to a new national and
European record in the 100 backstroke; her time of 59.01 takes a half second
off the former European mark of 59.51.
Usually a 200 specialist, butterflyer Denis Silantiev
came to the World Cup to see what he could do in the 100 race. The 20-year-old
native of the Ukraine stroked to an easy victory, narrowly missing the European
record with his time of 52.55. "It's a very hard distance for me,"
he said. "I didn't know what I could expect. I really surprised myself."
Once again, Adrian Radley was the only swimmer to win all of his events; with the full 40 points in the men's Backstroke category, he had a handsome lead going into the European part of the series. Rendezvous with Radley and mates was set for Malmö, Glasgow, and Gelsenkirchen.