Swimming

China’s Li Bingjie Rips 3:51.30 Short Course 400 Free World Record

2022 CHINESE SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Thursday, October 27th – Saturday, October 29th
Beijing, China
FINA SC World Championships Qualifying Event
SCM (25m)
Results via Asian Media

Most of the world expected that the World Record in the women’s 400 free would be challenged this weekend, but maybe on Friday, not Thursday. While competing on day one of the 2022 Chinese Swimming Championships, Li Bingjie crushed a new World Record time of 3:51.30 in the women’s short course 400 freestyle.

The record took 2.6 seconds off the old mark ahead of the FINA World Cup Series in Indianapolis that begins on Friday. There, American Katie Ledecky, formerly the World Record holder in long course, will swim just her second-ever meet in short course meters.

Li’s effort easily overtook the previous World Record mark of 3:53.92 Australia’s Ariarne Titmus put up at the 2018 FINA Short Course World Championships.

Li handily beat the competition tonight in Beijing, with Tang Muhan getting to the wall in 3:59.82 for silver while Liu Yaxin rounded out the top 3 in 4:00.33.

What separated Li for the World Record swim was her incredible backhalf. While she was slower than Titmus at the 200 meter mark, the Chinese swimmer negative-split her race (faster on the second 200 than on the first). Titmus was about three seconds slower on the second 200 than she was on the first when she previously set the World Record.

While Li currently is training for the 800 free and Titmus is not, Titmus was training for the 800 when she broke the World Record in this 400 in 2018 – making Li’s relative closing-speed even more stunning.

Comparative Splits for Li’s swim:

By 50

Li Bingjie
Ariarne Titmus

New World Record

50m
27.41
26.93

100m
29.31
29.15

150m
29.55
29.38

200m
29.61
29.91

250m
29.39
29.84

300m
29.25
29.73

350m
29
29.7

400m
27.78
29.28

3:51.30
3:53.92

By 100

Li Bingjie
Ariarne Titmus

New World Record

100m
56.72
56.08

200m
59.16
59.29

300m
58.64
59.57

400m
56.78
58.98

3:51.30
3:53.92

By 200

Li Bingjie
Ariarne Titmus

New World Record

200m
1:55.88
1:55.37

400m
1:55.42
1:58.55

3:51.30
3:53.92

Entering this meet, Li’s lifetime best in this 400 free event rested at the 3:55.83 she logged at the 2021 FINA Short Course World Championships. That gave the Chinese ace the gold medal ahead of runners-up Summer McIntosh of Canada and Siobhan Haughey of Hong Kong. McIntosh reaped silver in 3:57.87 while Haughey earned bronze in 3:58.12.

Li’s 3:51.30 tonight also overtakes the previous Chinese national record, a time which stood at the 3:53.92 teammate Wang Jianjiahe posted in 2018 during that year’s FINA World Cup. As such, Li hacked more than two and a half seconds off of that mark and more than four seconds off her own previous PB en route to clocking the new World Record.

Post-race, Li reportedly said, “I’m very excited now. I didn’t expect this time. I was thinking of 3:53 high so this is out of expectation.”

The end of Li’s race can be seen here.

Li is a two-time Olympic medalist, having won gold as a member of China’s World Record-breaking women’s 800m freestyle relay, as well as individual bronze in the 400m freestyle.

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