Dubai: The Chinese women’s swimming team powered their way to the first world record of the FINA World Short Course Championships here on Wednesday.
Chen Qian, Tang Yi, Liu Jing and Zhu Qianwei surged to victory in the 4x200m freestyle relay in a time of 7:35.94 to cut a massive three seconds off the previous mark set by the Netherlands at the last edition in Manchester two years ago.
Australia claimed silver in 7:37.57 and France the bronze in 7:38.33, meaning not only that the first three were all under the previous world mark, but also that traditional relay powerhouses the United States were ousted from the podium in both the men’s and women’s relay events.
In the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay is was France who just edged out Russia by four hundredths of a second to take the gold in a championship record of 3:04.78 with Brazil taking the bronze in 3:05.74.
“I didn’t think we could swim so fast but Yannick (Agnel) was very strong in the last few metres,” said Olympic 100m freestyle champion Alain Bernard. “We’ve been wanting to win this for a very long time. We’re satisfied and very happy.”
Meanwhile, Mireia Belmonte of Spain claimed two of the five gold medals on offer on the opening night of competition.
The speedy Spaniard first raced to victory in the 200m butterfly in a championship record time of 2:03.59 and then followed this up with another gold and championship record in the 400 individual medley (4:24.21).
Britain’s Jemma Lowe claimed silver in the 200m butterfly in 2:03.94, with Sweden’s Petra Granlund bronze in 2:04.38.
In the 400m individual medley, it was 14-year-old Ye Shiwen of China who bagged the silver behind Belmonte in 4:24.55 with her teammate Li Xuanxu taking bronze in 4:29.05.
“I’m tired but very happy. It’s fantastic to have two championship records,” said Belmonte after her double victory.
“Tomorrow I’ve got the 100m freestyle and the 200m individual medley which will be tough but I’ll try my best and see how it goes,” she added.
Also looking to add to his medal tally on Thursday will be American Ryan Lochte after getting his medal quest off to a promising start, with gold in the 200m freestyle.
The long course 200 individual medley world record holder won in a championship record time of 1:41.08, beating his own mark set in the morning’s heats, to achieve his 16th World Short Course medal and ninth gold.
Despite all the accolades, the American wasn’t thrilled with his performance.
“I wasn’t really happy with that because I thought I could go a lot faster. A world record would have been nice, but I guess that wasn’t meant to be.”
As for missing out on the chance to win eight golds at these championships, due to the United States finishing fourth in the 4x100m freestyle relay, Lochte added: “You win some, you lose some. As long as we were having fun out there, that’s all that matters.”