19-year-old Chinese swimmer Pan Zhanle has set a new world record in the 100 meter freestyle, breaking the previous record of 46.86 seconds and taking the lead in the World Championships in Doha. Pan told reporters, “Breaking the world record just came naturally. Now my goal is to swim even faster.” He also said, “I was shocked when I saw the time. I wasn’t expecting to break it – I wanted to leave it for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. It’s an honor for me, and it’s motivation for both young and old swimmers. I believe I can go faster than today’s time.”
In addition to his individual achievement, Pan helped China ease to 4x100m relay gold in Doha alongside three other teammates, with Italy and the US taking silver and bronze respectively. Notably, 16-year-old Zhang broke the 50 second barrier in the discipline with a time of 48.62 seconds – though only the leadoff leg of a relay counts towards official record times.
This accomplishment is all the more impressive when one considers that Pan had been feeling under the weather before the race. Qin Haiyan set the current 200m breaststroke record at last year’s World Championships, making China a dominant force in international swimming alongside other notable achievements by its swimmers.