The World Record set by Ye Shiwen in the final of the women’s 400 individual medley in London certainly got people talking. Unfortunately for the 16-year-old it got a lot of people talking for the wrong reasons, with allusions to China’s doping past swiftly coming to the forefont.
The source of this suspicion was the way she swam the race, with a last 100 of stunning speed which was 3.5 seconds faster than the previous world record split, and in all likellihood had she followed a more conventional pacing strategy but swum the same time, she may well have been spared such an inquisition.
In common with our preview analysis (which omitted Ye as a contender) the graphic below compares the three medal winners from London with the world record set by Stephanie Rice in Beijing. The graphs clearly show the finishing speed of the Chinese swimmer, which led to her last 50m being faster than Ryan Lochte’s in the corresponding mens’ event. Not that such a comparison is particularly relevant, but it makes good copy for newspapers, so has been widely publicised.
However, Ye’s time is disucssed in more detail by the BBC which argues that it’s not a statistically improbable time, but the article should be read with the knowledge that Rice swam her record in Shanghai with the benefit of a now banned LZR suit, which would have given her an advantage over the previous world record swim.
Rice WR: 01:01.47 – Ye: 01:02.19 – Li: 01:02.91 – Beisel: 01:03.10
Rice WR: 02:09.83 – Beisel: 02:11.28 – Ye: 02:11.73 – Li: 02:11.91
Rice WR: 03:27.25 – Beisel: 03:28.94 – Ye: 03:29.75 – Li: 03:31.33
Ye: 04:28.43 – Rice WR: 04:29.45 – Beisel: 04:31.27 – Li: 04:32.91