Ye Shiwen

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Ye Shiwen
Personal information
National team  China
Born (1996-03-01) March 1, 1996 (age 22)[1]
Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China
Height 1.72 m (5 ft 8 in)[1]
Weight 64 kg (141 lb)[1]
Sport Swimming
Strokes Individual Medley
Ye Shiwen
Simplified Chinese 叶诗文
Traditional Chinese 葉詩文

Ye Shiwen (Chinese: 叶诗文; pinyin: Yè Shīwén; Mandarin pronunciation: [jê ʂí wə̌n]; born March 1, 1996) is a Chinese swimmer. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, she won gold medals in the 400 metres and 200 metres individual medley, breaking the world record in the 400 m event and the Olympic record in the 200 m event.

Early life[edit]

Ye Shiwen was born in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province in eastern China. Her father Ye Qingsong was a runner in his youth, and her mother Ning Yiqing, who was a champion long jumper at school, works for a washing machine company.[2] She started swimming at the age of six after her kindergarten teacher noticed she had large hands and feet, joining the Chen Jinglun Sport School in the city.[1][2] She won the 50m freestyle at the 2006 Zhejiang Provincial Games.[3] She was on the provincial swimming team by 2007 and the Chinese national team by 2008,[2] attending the national junior training camp for two months beginning from October of that year.[4]

She trained in Brisbane, Australia with two world-class coaches, Ken Wood and Denis Cotterell, training that Ye described as "really harsh … but helpful".[5][2][3] Her coach Xu Guoyi stated in 2011 that the training in Australia had helped Ye improve her two weaker swimming strokes, with her strengths being the backstroke and the freestyle.[2]

Asian Games and World Championships[edit]

Aged just 14, Ye swam 4:33.79 in the Women's 400m individual medley at the 2010 Asian Games.[6] She swam 2.09.37 in the 200m individual medley (IM),[6] the fastest time in the world for that year,[2] her time for the 400m IM being the second fastest time in the world for that year.[2] At the 2011 World Aquatics Championships in Shanghai, Ye beat both Alicia Coutts and Ariana Kukors to win the gold medal in 200m individual medley.[2]

2012 Summer Olympics[edit]

Women's 400m individual medley[edit]

At the 2012 Summer Olympics, in the third heat of the Women's 400m individual medley she swam 4:31.73, an improvement of two seconds over her previous best time at the 2010 Asian Games.[7] In the final she won the gold medal and broke the world record (held by Stephanie Rice since the 2008 Summer Olympics) with a time of 4:28.43, an improvement of a further three seconds, swimming the last 50m in 28.93 seconds.[8][9] Ye's time over the final 50m was compared to that of Ryan Lochte, the winner of the corresponding men's event, who swam it just under a fifth of a second slower in 29.10. This prompted allegations of doping against Ye. However, commentators pointed out that these two times were misleading. Lochte's overall time was 23.25 seconds faster, 4:05.18, than Ye's, and the times of all eight finalists in the men's 400m IM were at least 10 seconds faster than Ye's time. When Lochte hit the freestyle leg of the race, he had a comfortable lead over his opponents, whereas Ye was still a body length behind U.S. swimmer Elizabeth Beisel at that point in her race.[6][10] Phil Lutton, sports editor of the Brisbane Times, observed that Ye "had to hit the burners to motor past Beisel".[6] Data analysis of performances of 2,600 swimmers by two University of Kansas researchers does not find Ye's improvement unusual.[11]

Although there was speculation regarding Ye's significant improvement over a relatively short time,[12][13] Phil Lutton pointed out that Ye had grown from 160 cm at the time of the 2010 Games to 172 cm at the 2012 Olympics, and that "[t]hat sort of difference in height, length of stroke and size of hand leads to warp-speed improvement".[6] Former Olympic swimming champions Ian Thorpe and Adrian Moorhouse said that they had also improved their personal bests due to growth spurts.[14] The British Olympic Association chairman Colin Moynihan stated in a news conference that Ye had passed drug tests and "deserved recognition for her talent".[10][15][16][17]

Women's 200m individual medley[edit]

In the 200m individual medley final on 31 July 2012, Ye was in third place at the start of the final leg of the race,[18][19] but she again overtook her competitors in the freestyle leg, winning the gold medal with the time 2:07.57, a new Olympic record.[18][19] In preliminary heats she had swum 2:08.90, the same time that she achieved in the 2011 World Championships and her tenth best time of all time, with splits of 28.16, 1:00.54, and 1:38.17.[20]

2013 World Championships[edit]

At the 2013 World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona, Ye failed to medal in any events, finishing fourth in the 200 metre individual medley with a time of 2:10.48 and seventh in the 400 metre individual medley with a time of 4:38.51.

2014 Asian Games[edit]

At the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, Ye won two gold medals in the 200m individual medley with a new games record of 2:08.94 and the 400m individual medley with a new games record of 4:32.97. She also helped China win the gold medal in the 4x100m freestyle.

2015 World Championships[edit]

Ye failed to win any medals at the 2015 World Championships. In the 200m individual medley, she reached the final but placed last with a time of 2:14.01, more than three seconds behind seventh place. In the 400m individual medley, though being the world record holder in the event at that time, she missed a spot in the final, clocking in at 4:42.96.

2016 Summer Olympics[edit]

At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Ye qualified as fourth fastest for the final of the 200 m individual medley, but finished 8th in the final. In the 400 m individual medley, she failed to qualify for the final.


Personal bests[edit]

Long course (50 m)[edit]

Event Time Meet Date Notes
200 m IM 2:07.57 2012 Olympics Jul 31, 2012 AR, Former OR
400 m IM 4:28.43 2012 Olympics Jul 28, 2012
100 m Freestyle 0:54.73 2014 National Swimming Championships May 14, 2014
200 m Freestyle 1:57.54 2013 National Swimming Championships Apr 04, 2013
100 m Backstroke 1:01.87 2014 National Swimming Trials Oct 17, 2014
200 m Backstroke 2:09.12 2013 National Swimming Championships Apr 07, 2013
200 m Breaststroke 2:33.36 2012 National Swimming Trials Sep 26, 2012
200 m Butterfly 2:09.39 2014 National Swimming Trials Oct 14, 2014

Short course (25 m)[edit]

Event Time Meet Date Notes
200 m IM 2:04.64 2012 World Championships Dec 15, 2012 AR
400 m IM 4:23.33 2012 World Championships Dec 12, 2012 AR
100 m IM 0:58.36 2014 World Cup(Beijing Leg) Oct 25, 2014 AR

See also[edit]




Preceded by
Australia Stephanie Rice
Women's 400 metre individual medley
world record holder (long course)

28 July 2012 – 6 August 2016
Succeeded by
Hungary Katinka Hosszú
Preceded by
Australia Alicia Coutts
Pacific Rim Swimmer of the Year
2011, 2012
Succeeded by
Australia Cate Campbell