Pan Zhanle made headlines at the world swimming championships in Doha by breaking the men’s 100m freestyle world record as he led off China’s gold medal-winning 4x100m free relay team. At just 19 years old, Pan split 46.80 seconds, taking six hundredths off the previous world record set by Romanian David Popovici in 2022. This impressive performance helped China win the relay by a one-second margin over Italy while the U.S. claimed bronze without their top 100m freestylers.
Pan’s remarkable record has established him as a strong contender for the iconic 100m freestyle race at the Paris Olympics, which American Caeleb Dressel won in an Olympic record time of 47.02 at the previous Games in Tokyo in 2021. Although some top swimmers opted not to compete at the worlds, Pan’s performance was noteworthy.
In the women’s 4x100m free, the Netherlands outperformed Australia to win, with anchor Marrit Steenbergen posting the fastest split of the 32-swimmer field. Meanwhile, Erika Fairweather made history by becoming the first New Zealand swimmer to win a world title in the women’s 400m free. Her victory of 2.18 seconds over China’s Li Bingjie set the stage for her to challenge the three fastest women in history in the upcoming Olympic games.
In addition to these impressive performances, South Korea’s Kim Woo-Min claimed victory in the men’s