Katie Ledecky is the only swimmer to win world titles in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles. If that’s incredible, then what Sun Yang did at the Chinese Nationals last week is certainly notable.
The six-time Olympic medalist swept the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle national titles in Qingdao.
Sun, already the only swimmer to win Olympic titles in both the 200m and 1500m frees, has become stronger in the shorter freestyles in recent years.
He has the fastest times in the world this year in the 200m and 400m but ranks third in the 800m and 10th in the 1500m. He is No. 29 in the 100m free.
The 25-year-old could now swim the 100m free at a major international meet for the first time in July.
However, the 100m free semifinals and the 800m free final are in the same session. Sun has won the last three world titles in the 800m free and could shed the 100m to focus on the 800m.
Few men have shown that kind of range in a career. South Africa’s Ryk Neethling finished fifth in the 1500m free at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, then fourth in the 100m free at Athens 2004.
Sun, the only Chinese male swimmer with an Olympic title, is expected to try for a fourth Olympics in 2020, but that wasn’t a given last summer.
“I talked about my future with my father after Rio Olympics,” Sun said last week, according to Xinhua News Agency. “The career is so tough and I was thinking maybe I could only hang on for one or two more years. It’s hard for an athlete to keep fighting for a long time and only the strong-minded ones could stand the trial.”
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