2012 London Olympics: Chinese Power in the Pool

Last night, as Australia’s ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ relay crew lost out on a medal all together and a team including Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps slipped behind the French, it became apparent that things were not as predictable in the Olympic pool as everyone had first thought.

Indeed, when Lochte obliterated all comers in the 400m medley many said that he was the new superstar of swimming and would be the standout of the 2012 London Olympics.

Today it seems a little more accurate to say that the next true superstar of swimming could be Chinese.

A lot is said of 17-year-old Missy Franklin, who takes part in the 100m backstroke final later today, but she is up against the world record holder Gemma Spofforth and Australian Emily Seebohm who looks intent on smashing that record. She will not have an easy swim.

Even more is being said of Lochte. However, something else must be pointed out on this. The winner of the women’s 400m medlay was a 16-year-old Chinese girl named Ye Shiwen. She swam faster in her last 50m than Lochte did. This is the first time in history a woman has finished faster than a man, and in doing so she knocked a whole second off of the world record.

Such feats cannot be ignored and although some talents are perpetually generated by the US and Australia (perhaps even South Africa should be included, here) there is a sense of impending awe where the Chinese are concerned.

This group of impressive Chinese swimmers are headed by the imposing figure of Sun Yang. Two days ago he won the 400m freestyle gold, and tonight he takes on Lochte in the 200m freestyle.

It will be an impressive final, with world record holder Paul Biedermann in lane 6, Lochte in lane 2 and the man who shot past him last night, Yannick Agnel, sets up in lane 5. However, all of them will fear lane 4, where Sun Yang lurks.

With Park Taehwan of South Korea also in this race it will be a cracking final.

Mathew Grevers may well storm to 100m backstroke victory ,if he can get past 50m world record holder Liam Tancock, but tonight may be the night that a true shift in power is shown to the world.