More than one second slower doesn't mean Liu Zige, the Asian record holder, could not make a breakthrough in women's 100 meters butterfly.
On the fourth day of the Chinese Spring National Championships in Wuhan on Tuesday, the Olympic champion powered home first in an amazing 57.39 seconds which tied her world No. 3 last year. Although there was still a large gap of the Asian record, 56.07 set by her in the 2009 National Games, you cannot forget it was achieved in the era of fast swimsuit.
Liu's Shanghai teammate Lu Ying chalked up 58.14 and Liu Lan from Chinese Army stood third in 58.21.
Liu, 22, said: "It's my trainning level. I'm OK with the result. Last year I rarely competed in big matches, so I need to compete in more games to catch up with my rhythm and best form, aiming for the coming Shanghai World Championships."
Another world top-three performance was made by Chinese rising star Sun Yang in men's 400m freestyle final. His 3:41.48 finish, just 0.13 slower than the Asian record set by anther Chinese swimming big name Zhang Lin when he won a silver in Beijing Olympic Games.
The silver went to Shanghai swimmer Dai Jun, who clocked 3:50.61. Tianjin's Zhong Guixu placed third in 3:52.48.
The 20-year-old Sun said: "I didn't make adjustment since a few months training spell in Australia. I will leave my best form to Shanghai World Championships."
To the cheers of zealous home fans, Hubei girl Zhao Jing, three backstroke events Asian record holder, didn't show the overwhelming edge in women's 100m backstroke, touching home 59.91 to secure title until the last second. Shangdong's veteran Gao Chang was second with 0.04 seconds behind, leaving the bronze to Liao Yali from Hunan with 1:00.60.
Strong competition was taken on in women's 50m breaststroke. Chinese Navy's Zhang Hongtao claimed the gold in 31.21, 0.08 clear of the second Ji Liping from Shanghai, the bronze went to Liaoning swimmer Liu Xiaoyu. The winners of men's 100m butterfly and 200m individual medley belonged to Shangdong lad Chen Weiwu and Zhengjiang's Wangshun.
Women's 4x200m freestyle relay gold was grabbed by Zhejiang team with 7:58.71, Shanghai and Beijing timed 7:59.95 and 8:01.00 respectively also stand on the podium.