Ning Zetao

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Ning Zetao
Kazan 2015 - Ning Zetao after 100 metres frestyle M final.JPG
Ning Zetao (right) in Kazan 2015
Personal information
Full name宁泽涛
Nickname(s)Baozi (包子)
National team China
Born (1993-03-06) 6 March 1993 (age 26)
Zhengzhou, Henan, China
Height1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)
Weight81 kg (179 lb)
ClubPLA Navy team
Ning Zetao
Simplified Chinese宁泽涛
Traditional Chinese甯/寧澤濤 (surname uncertain)[a][1]

Ning Zetao (Chinese: 宁泽涛; pinyin: Nìng Zétāo or Níng Zétāo; Mandarin pronunciation: [nîŋ.tsɤ̌ tʰáu] or [nǐŋ.tsɤ̌ tʰáu]; born 6 March 1993) is a Chinese competitive swimmer. Specializing in the freestyle, he won a gold medal in the 100 metre freestyle at the 2015 World Championships. At the 2014 Asian Games, he won gold medals in the 50 metre freestyle, 4 × 100 metre medley relay, 4 × 100 metre freestyle relay, and 100 metre freestyle, breaking the Asian records in the latter two events.[2][3][4] Ning also swam for China at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

On March 6th 2019, Ning announced his retirement from the sport of swimming through his Weibo account, the day is his 26th birthday.

Early life[edit]

Ning Zetao was born in Zhengzhou, the capital city of Henan. He is the only child of Ning Feng (宁锋) and Liu Wenhong (刘文红).[5]Ning's father Ning Feng served four years in the air force reserve prior to working for a state broadcasting company;[6] his mother, Liu Wenhong[7] served in the Chinese People's Armed Police Force; both of his grandfathers also served in the Chinese military.[8]

Ning started swimming at age 8. Before then, he even feared hair-washing.[9] His parents took him to a swimming school to help him overcome his fear of water and to improve his physical health. Local coach Guo Hongyan noticed Ning's quick grasp on learning different strokes and techniques. She persuaded Ning's parents to have him trained under her. At age 11, Ning Zetao became a member of Henan provincial swimming team. At age 14, Ning was accepted to the PLA Navy's swimming team; he started training under Ye Jin, a well-known coach who remains his coach today. Initially, he trained for the 200-meter and 400-meter individual medley races. Because he suffered from chronic bone calcification on his right knee, he switched from individual medley to sprint freestyle.[10]

Following his family's military background, Ning served as a lieutenant in the Chinese Navy.[11]

Ning idolizes Alexander Popov as his role model.[12][13]


October 2009, 11th Chinese National Games, Shandong, China[edit]

At the age of sixteen, Ning competed in his first National games. He advanced to the 400-meter medley final and finished in 8th place.[14]

April 2011, Chinese National Swimming Championships, Wuhan, Hubei, China[edit]

This was his first time competing in a sprint freestyle event. He advanced to the 100-meter free final and finished 4th with a time of 50.05. Lv Zhiwu from Team Zhejiang finished in first place with a time of 49.46.[15]

April 2013, Chinese National Swimming Championships, Zhengzhou, Henan, China[edit]

Ning defeated two-time defending champion Lv Zhiwu, winning his first national championship in the 100-meter free in his hometown, setting the new national record with a time of 48.60 on April 5, 2013. He also won first place in the 50-meter free with a record time of 22.41 on April 7, 2013.[16] This event marks the beginning of his dominance in sprint freestyle in China.

September 2013, 12th Chinese National Games, Shenyang, Liaoning, China[edit]

He broke his own record time in the 100-meter free, establishing a new Asian record at 48.27 on September 8; the very next day, he continued his record-breaking performance, setting a new Asian record for the 50-meter free at 21.91.[17]

October 2013, East Asian Games, Tianjin, China[edit]

Ning placed first in both the 100-meter free with a time of 48.41, and the 50-meter free with a time of 22.20 on October 13 and 14, respectively. He also won silver in the 4 × 100-meter free relay.[18] His record-breaking streak earned him a spot in Chinese national swimming team.[19]

October 2013, Chinese National Swimming Championships, Huangshan, Anhui, China[edit]

On October 26, Ning won a gold medal in 50-meter butterfly with a time of 24.13. Due to a fever, however, he did not compete in any other events.[20]

June 2014, 45th CISM World Military Swimming & Lifesaving Championships, Tenero, Switzerland[edit]

Competing for the Chinese Liberation Army, Ning earned a gold medal in the 100-meter free, setting a new CISM world record at 48.48. He won another gold in the men's 50-meter free.[21] He was not in his best physical state at the games due to a wrist injury sustained a few months prior to the competition.[22]

September 2014, 17th Asian Games, Incheon, South Korea[edit]

Ning and his teammates(those ones in the front row) in 2014 Asian Games

The 2014 Incheon Asian games was the first major championship outside China he competed in. September 23, Ning earned his first gold in the 50-meter free in an Asian Games with a time of 21.95. On September 25, he beat South Korea's Park Tae-hwan and Japan's Shioura Shinri setting the new Asian record time of 47.70 in the 100-meter free; he was the first Asian swimmer to break the 48-second barrier. On September 24, in the men's 4 × 100-meter free relay, teamed with Yu Hexin, Lin Yongqing, Sun Yang, Ning swam the fourth leg and ensured China finished in first place and set a new Asian record with a time of 3:13.47. On September 26, in the men's 4 × 100-meter medley relay, with Xu Jiayu, Li Xiang, Li Zhuhao, swimming the fourth leg, Ning overtook strong rival, Japan's Shioura Shinri in the last 50 meters and helped China win gold in a time of 3:31:37, but failed to break the Asian record.[23]

October 2014, Chinese National Swimming Championships, Huangshan, Anhui, China[edit]

Continuing his dominance in the freestyle sprints, Ning broke his previous Incheon Asian record of 47.70 in the 100-meter free with a new time of 47.65 on October 17.[24] He also won a silver medal in the 50-meter butterfly with a time of 23.65.[25] Due to food poisoning, he did not compete in the 50-meter free event.[26]

2014 FINA Swimming World Cup (25 m)[edit]

At the 2014 world cup meet in Beijing, Yu Hexin, Suo Ran, Lu Ying, with Ning swam the fourth leg in the mixed 4 × 50-meter medley relay, finished in first place with a time of 1:40.10. In the 50-meter free final, he placed in third with a time of 21.35. Chad le Clos of South Africa won first place with a time of 21.28.[27]

2014 FINA World Swimming Championships (25 m)[edit]

At the 2014 FINA World Swimming Championships (25 m) in Doha, again with Ning swimming the final leg in the mixed 4 × 50-meter medley relay, China finished in the 6th place, but Ning recorded a split-time of 20.59. In the men's 4 × 100-meter free relay heats, he swam the second leg with a time of 46.13, putting China in 10th place overall. In the 50-meter free heat, he reached a personal best of 21.26 and finished in 12th place in the semi-final with a time of 21.37.[28] Due to a wrist injury, he did not compete in the 100-meter free final.

April 2015, Chinese National Swimming Championships, Baoji, Shaanxi, China [edit]

This national swimming event served as Chinese swimmers' qualifying selection for the 16th FINA World Aquatics Championships held in Kazan, Russia. From April 12 to April 15, Ning competed in two events: 100-meter freestyle and 50-meter freestyle. In the 100-meter freestyle semifinal, he finished first with a time of 48.34. In the final, he recorded a time of 48.36 and a reaction time of 0.72 winning the first place. Yu Hexin finished 2nd with a time of 49.11.[29] Both swimmers meet the 16th FINA 100-meter freestyle Level A qualifying time of 49.39.[30] In the 50-meter freestyle semifinal, Ning recorded a time of 22.31 with reaction time of 0.62; in the final, he finished in first place with a time of 22.17 and a reaction time of 0.72. Again, Yu Hexin finished in the 2nd place with a time of 22.47. Ning has met 16th FINA’S Level A qualifying time of 22.25 for this event. In an interview with CCTV5 Sports, Ning confirmed that he had not fully recovered from his wrist injury and was hoping to undergo more effective treatment in preparation for the upcoming World Championships. He also expressed in this interview his desire to train overseas.[31]

16th FINA World Aquatics Championships, July 24, 2015 to August 9, 2015 Kazan, Russia[edit]

Competing for the Chinese National swimming team, Ning with teammates Yu Hexin, Lin Yongqing and Jiang Qiheng competed in the 4 × 100-meter freestyle relay on Aug 2. He swam the first leg and led the Chinese team to advance to the final, marking the first time a Chinese men's team reached this far in this event at the FINA World Aquatics Championships. China finished 7th in the final with a time of 3:15:41. Ning's lead-off time of 48.37[32] made him the tied 2nd best among the lead-off legs in this event. On Aug 5th, Ning competed in the 100-meter freestyle heats. Ning finished in first place with a time of 48.11.[33] In the semifinals, Ning delivered another solid performance with a time of 48.13, coming in 2nd place. On Aug 6th, in the 100-meter freestyle final, Ning gave his best performance, taking the lead at 50 meters and finishing in first place with a time of 47.84 (RT: 0.67, 1st 50 meters: 22.76), 0.09 seconds ahead of Cameron McEvoy who finished in 2nd place. Ning winning the gold marked a milestone achievement in the Chinese swimming, as prior to Ning's victory, no Asian swimmer had ever advanced to the final or won medals in this event at the FINA world championships. Legendary Russian swimmer Alexander Popov presented Ning with the gold medal; Ning had been a longtime fan of Popov and has expressed his admiration of Popov on numerous occasions.[34] In the interview after the race, Ning credited his success to the six weeks he spent training under Australian Coach Matthew Brown. On August 7, Ning raced in the men's 50-meter freestyle, finishing in 14th place with a time of 22.43 and advancing to the semifinal. He came in 15th place in the semifinal with a time of 22.28 and failed to advance to the final.[35]

2016 Summer Olympics[edit]

These were Ning's first Olympic Games. In individual events, Ning finished in 30th place in the Men's 50 metre freestyle and in 12th place in the Men's 100 metre freestyle. In the relay races, due to teammates' false starts, Ning finished as disqualifications both in the Men's 4 × 100 metre freestyle relay and Men's 4 × 100 metre medley relay.[36][37][38]

Personal bests (long course)[edit]

As of October 17, 2014
Event Time Meet Date Note(s)
50 m butterfly 23.65 2014 Chinese National Swimming Championships October 15, 2014
50 m freestyle 21.91 2013 National Games of China September 11, 2013 NR
100 m freestyle 47.65 2014 Chinese National Swimming Championships October 17, 2014 AS

Key: AS = Asian Record, NR = National Record

Failed drug test[edit]

In April 2011, eighteen-year old Ning was tested positive for clenbuterol, which led to a one-year suspension. He filed an appeal to overturn the ban, but was denied.[39]


Ning received the CCTV Sports Award for Best Male Athlete in 2014 for his achievements in sprint freestyle.[40] Ning won the Best Male Athlete of the Year again in 2015 at CCTV Sports Personality of Year Award for his gold winning performance at the 16th FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia.[41]


Since 2014 Incheon Asian Games, Ning has gained great popularity nationwide, having become the spokesperson for Skullcandy, China and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Co., FitBit China, Gillette China,[42] De Beers China,[43] Alexander Wang and Adidas.[44][45][46]

The Chinese National Swimming team has endorsement deals with 361 Degrees, Chinese automaker Geely and Midea. Ning often appears in advertisements or promotional events alongside other members of the Chinese National Swimming Team.


Ning, as a very popular swimming icon nationwide, has had various appearances in magazine covers, commercial posters and TV shows.[47] Before the 2016 Summer Olympics, because the commercial Ning was sponsored(Yili milk)is a rival of that of the national swimming team’s(Mengniu milk), he was forced to stop his training from Australia and back to China finding his meal card get locked and was threatened to leave his apartment, which was provided by national swimming center. Ning has been forced to stop training for a few weeks and not until two weeks before the Olympic that he was informed that he would be in the national team representing China to compete. Ning was at his best form then however this sudden change smashed his form for competing, and is a life changing event for him. Since then the General Administration of Sport strongly criticized Ning's extensive off-the-court activities. Some gossip even claimed that Ning would be expelled from the National Team.[48][49] Ning blamed high stress and pressure for the situation. [50][51][52] Ning signed a new contract with Adidas in January 2017.[53]


He is often called "Baozi" by friends, teammates and fans. The name is a reference to his ample cheeks at the time he joined the Navy swimming team, as well as his love for the food he was nicknamed after. His fans and Weibo followers also call him Lieutenant Ning, in reference to his Navy rank. He was voted as the "most attractive male athlete" at the Incheon Asian Games. Known for his physical beauty, charisma, and athletic achievement, he has gained a large number of online followers and has been the subject of much online attention. As of August 2015, his Weibo follower count has exceeded 2.8 million. As of September 2016, his weibo follower count exceeded 7.7 million.


  1. ^ 甯 and 寧 are two different surnames in traditional Chinese that have merged into 宁 in simplified Chinese. These two surnames are pronounced differently; 甯 is pronounced as nìng with a falling tone, while 寧 is pronounced as níng with a rising tone. The ambiguity has been introduced in mainland China since the Chinese character reform in the 1950s, when the commission in charge of the reform declared that these two characters are merely variants, and merged both to an unrelated character 宁 originally pronounced as zhù, overlooking the fact that these two characters are not interchangeable when served as surnames.


  1. ^ Huo Guangwu 霍光武 (2015). "宁(níng)泽涛,还是宁(nìng)泽涛——兼谈姓氏异体字引出的困惑". 语文教学之友 Yuwen Jiaoxue Zhi You (12): 48.
  2. ^ "Men's 100m Freestyle Results". Incheon 2014 Asian Games. Archived from the original on 28 September 2014. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  3. ^ "China Sets Asian Record in 400 Free Relay to Close Night". Swimming World Magazine. 24 September 2014. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  4. ^ "Ning Zetao". Incheon 2014 Asian Games. Archived from the original on 27 September 2014. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  5. ^ Retrieved 2017-01-11
  6. ^ “After Winning 100 m, Ning Zetao Wins 50 m Free”. Jinbao News, Sep 11, 2013. Retrieved Feb 24, 2015.
  7. ^ PLA Daily: "Flying Fish, Life of Army Swimmer Ning Zetao" Oct 12, 2014. Retrieved Feb, 28 2015.
  8. ^ China CCTV 7 Nov 23, 2014 Interview.
  9. ^ 关于男神宁泽涛你必须知道这13件事 Retrieved 2016-12-17
  10. ^ “Ning Zetao”. LifeWeeks Magazine. Jan 7, 2015. Retrieved Feb 24, 2015.
  11. ^ "Navy lieutenant wins gold".
  12. ^ 偶像波波夫为宁泽涛颁奖 泳坛新老男神传承 Retrieved 2016-08-27
  13. ^ 狂欢过后,请一切如常 Retrieved 2016-12-17
  14. ^ “Zhengzhou Fellow, Ning Zetao, From Flying Fish to Idol”. Zhengzhou Evening Newspaper Digital Edition. Sep 26, 2014. Retrieved Feb 27, 2015.
  15. ^ “2011 04 04 China National Swimming Championship” clips from Ning Zetao Media Resources. Retrieved Feb 27, 2015.
  16. ^ “2013 Chinese National Swimming Championships Results”. 163 Sports, Apr 8, 2013. Retrieved Feb 24, 2015.
  17. ^ “Flying Fish: Ning, the Hope for China’s Sprinter”. China People Daily oversea edition. Sep 13, 2013. Retrieved Feb 24, 2015.
  18. ^ Swimming Competition Official Results from 6th East Asia Games official website. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-09-28. Retrieved 2014-09-27.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link). Retrieved Feb 24, 2015.
  19. ^ “Zhengzhou Fellow, Ning Zetao, From Flying Fish to Idol”. Zhengzhou Evening Newspaper Digital Edition. Sep 26, 2014. Retrieved Feb 27, 2015.
  20. ^ “Champions” ChinaDaily. Oct 28, 2013. Retrieved Feb 24, 2015.
  21. ^ “CISM World Military Swimming Result”. Xinhua News. June 15, 2014. Retrieved Feb 24, 2015.
  22. ^ Chinese CCTV 5 Sports Morning News. May 24, 2014. Retrieved Mar 6, 2015.
  23. ^ Incheon Asian Games Official Results. Retrieved on Feb 24, 2015.
  24. ^ “Ning Breaks Asian Record Again in 100 m free”. Xinhua News. Oct 17, 2014. Retrieved on Feb 24, 2015.
  25. ^ “Ning Wins Silver in 50-meter Butterfly”: EastDay Sports. Oct 16, 2014. Retrieved Feb 24, 2015.
  26. ^ "20 Swimmers out of the Competition due to Illness Caused by Food Poison". YuQing News. Oct 19, 2014. Retrieved Feb 28, 2015.
  27. ^ 2014 FINA World Swimming Championship (25m)-Beijing Reporting from Chinese Swimming Association, October 26, 2014. Retrieved Feb 28, 2015
  28. ^ 2014 FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) – DOHA Official Results from FINA.ORG. Retrieved Feb 28, 2015.
  29. ^ Swimming Stats Lookup: Chinese National Swimming Organization Official Website;; Retrieved Apr 13, 2015.
  30. ^ 16th FINA Swimming Qualifying Time Standard:; Retrieved April 15, 2015.
  31. ^ CCTV 5 Sports Channel April 15 Interview:, Retrieved April 15, 2015
  32. ^ 16th FINA World Championships Official Results
  33. ^ 16th FINA World Championships Official Results
  34. ^ “就像我百米自由泳夺冠感觉像是在做梦一样,我的偶像波波夫竟然来给我颁奖,我真的太意外、太开心了!可惜的是,我竟然忘记告诉他,‘我是你的粉丝,我从小就在学习你的自由泳技术’,太遗憾了!” Retrieved 2016-12-17
  35. ^ 16th FINA World Championships Official Results
  36. ^ 宁泽涛的奥运之行:略感失望 但实属正常成绩 Retrieved 2017-01-11
  37. ^ 落寞离开 宁泽涛结束奥运之旅 Retrieved 2017-01-11
  38. ^ 宁泽涛 这一年 Retrieved 2017-01-11
  39. ^ “Career Setback -Ning Zetao” Xinhua News Agency Oct 19, 2014 Interview. Retrieved Feb 28, 2015.
  40. ^ “Ning Zetao Wins Male Athlete of the Year” Dahe News, Feb 2, 2015. Retrieved Feb 24, 2015.
  41. ^ "Ning Zetao Won Best Male Athlete of the Year Again", Xinhuanet News. Jan 24, 2016. Retrieved Jan 24, 2016.
  42. ^ Gillette Announces Ning Zetao as the New Spokersperson, Retrieved Jan 24, 2016,
  43. ^ De Beers China News Update, Retrieved Jan 24, 2016,
  44. ^ "Alexander Wang with Ning Zetao: Shanghai H&M Launch".
  45. ^ 阿迪达斯签下没有金牌的宁泽涛,这意味着什么? Retrieved 2017-01-09
  46. ^ 宁泽涛人气爆棚机场被挤成肉夹馍不怒 Retrieved 2017-01-11
  47. ^ 从此后,有个广告明星叫宁泽涛 Retrieved 2017-01-11
  48. ^ 宁泽涛“转业” 真相何在?游泳中心至今“失声” Retrieved 2017-01-11
  49. ^ 再论宁泽涛事件:中国游泳队纵容了谁 Retrieved 2017-01-11
  50. ^ 宁泽涛揭奥运风波:被勒令停训 被迫搬公寓销饭卡 Retrieved 2017-01-11
  51. ^ 盘点|宁泽涛半年来发生了什么 他始终在风口浪尖 Retrieved 2017-01-15
  52. ^ 深扒宁泽涛商业代言路 十亿先生 Retrieved 2017-01-11
  53. ^ 宁泽涛再次引发热论: 2017年千万签约阿迪 Retrieved 2017-01-11

External links[edit]