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Liu Lifeline Swells Olympic Defence List

Jun 28, 2012  - Craig Lord

All eyes are on the action here in Omaha this week but over in China they just selected 51 swimmers for an Olympic team that looks set to go without 400m free silver medallist Zhang Lin, in Beijing the first Chinese man ever to win an Olympic swim medal, but with Liu Zige despite the fact that the 200m butterfly champion of a home Games in 2008 is ranked third in her nation over 100m and 200m this season.

On 2:05.18 and 2:05.38 respectively, world champion Jiao Liuyang and Gong Jie are China's top two, while in the 100m efforts of 57.48 for Lu Ying and 57.80 for Jiao top Liu's best this season. It is believed that Liu will defend her 200m crown.

If so, that would leave the solo defending champions roster at 18 campaigns, four swims pending in Omaha and four Olympic crowns that will certainly sit on a new head in London this summer.

Vice-President of the China Swimming Association Shang Xiutang revealed the numbers selected this week, though the precise details of who will swim what have yet to filter through in English. 

According to Shang, the 51 swimmers include Liu Zige, world 1500m champion and record holder Sun Yang, world 200m butterfly champion Jiao Liuyang, backstroke ace Zhao Jing and 200m 'fly ace Wu Peng.

The entries are all but closed but Shang did not exactly slam the door in Zhang's face, telling Chinese media: "There is only slim hope for Zhang Lin to go to the Olympic Games. We feel sorry for him. He is a very good swimmer and had won glory at the Beijing Olympic Games."

Zhang followed up his historic 400m free silver in Beijing with a pioneering gold and world record in 800m freestyle at the Rome 2009 world titles marked by shiny suits. He was the first Chinese man in 49 years to set a world swimming record.

This year, Zhang missed the FINA A standard at nationals but he may be given a last-minute reprieve if he is considered to be a worthy alternative for a 4x200m freestyle squad in with a chance of making the podium after taking a stunning bronze at world titles last year.

"We hope we can win a medal in the men's 4x200m freestyle relay, so we must make sure every swimmer in our team is on good form," Shang said. "It's hard decision to leave Zhang Lin out, and that's why we spend so much time deciding the squad."

Olympic Title Defences: the story so far:



  • Cesar Cielo (BRA) 50m freestyle
  • Michael Phelps (USA) 200m freestyle
  • Park Tae-Hwan (KOR) 400m freestyle
  • Oussama Mellouli (TUN) 1500m freestyle
  • Kosuke Kitajima (JPN) 100m breaststroke
  • Kosuke Kitajima (JPN) 200m breaststroke
  • Michael Phelps (USA) 200m butterfly
  • Michael Phelps (USA) 400m medley


  • Britta Steffen (GER) 50m freestyle
  • Britta Steffen (GER) 100m freestyle
  • Federica Pellegrini (ITA) 200m freestyle
  • Rebecca Adlington (GBR) 400m freestyle
  • Rebecca Adlington (GBR) 800m freestyle
  • Kirsty Coventry (ZIM) 200m backstroke
  • Leisel Jones (AUS) 100m breaststroke
  • Liu Zige (CHN) 200m butterfly
  • Stephanie Rice (AUS) 200m medley
  • Stephanie Rice (AUS) 400m medley


  • Ryan Lochte (USA) 200m backstroke
  • Michael Phelps (USA) 100m butterfly
  • Michael Phelps (USA) 200m medley
  • Rebecca Soni (USA) 200m breaststroke

No defence:


  • Alain Bernard (FRA) 100m freestyle - missed domestic cut
  • Aaron Peirsol (USA) 100m backstroke - retired 2010


  • Natalie Coughlin (USA) 100m backstroke - missed domestic cut
  • Libby Trickett (AUS) 100m butterfly - missed domestic cut

Both Coughlin and Trickett took extended breaks from the sport between 2008 and 2012.

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