Chinese swimmer’s world-record result ‘disturbing’ to swimming official

Published On July 30, 2012 | By Arielle Aronson

Ye Shiwen, a 16-year-old Chinese swimmer, raised eyebrows after an incredible 4:28.43 finish in the 400 IM on Saturday, but not all those raised eyebrows were for good reasons. Shiwen’s world-record finish has caused some controversy since she swam her final 50 meters in 28.93 seconds, a faster time than men’s gold medalist Ryan Lochte‘s time of 29.10 in his final 50 meters of the men’s 400 IM.

World Swimming Coaches Association executive director John Leonard is now questioning Shiwen’s finish. He compared Shiwen’s race to watching that of East German and Irish swimmers who recorded incredible times as a result of doping. Leonard called Shiwen’s performance “disturbing”, according to a report from British newspaper, The Guardian.

“We want to be very careful about calling it doping,” Leonard said. “The one thing I will say is that history in our sport will tell you that every time we see something, and I will put quotation marks around this, ‘unbelievable’, history shows us that it turns out later on there was doping involved.”

Shiwen’s 400 IM was also notable since her finish was more than seven seconds faster than her time in the same event just one year ago in the World Championships. In swimming, seven seconds is a huge time difference. For Shiwen to not only improve her swim by that much time but also beat the top male swimmer in the world is stunning.

“Where someone could out-split one of the fastest male swimmers in the world, and beat the woman ahead of her by three-and-a-half body lengths, all those things, I think, legitimately call that swim into question,” Leonard said according to The Guardian’s report.

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About The Author

Arielle Aronson is a sports writer and recent graduate from Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Print Journalism Magna Cum Laude. Arielle has a passion for sports cultivated from growing up with two older brothers. She also enjoys playing the piano, reading and traveling.