Zhanle Pan, a 19-year-old from China, made history at the 2024 World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar. He recorded the fastest 100-meter freestyle swim in history, breaking the world record previously held by Romanian teenager David Popovici. This accomplishment established Pan as the pacesetter ahead of the forthcoming Paris Olympics.
Pan set the new world record with a time of 46.80 seconds in the leadoff leg of Team China’s gold medal-winning 4x100m relay event. He was ecstatic about breaking the world record and is now focused on swimming even faster. Pan said, “It’s an honor for me, and it’s motivation for both young and old swimmers. I believe I can go faster than today’s time.”
Pan had informed his coaches that “there may be a surprise” in store on the day of his record-breaking swim. He later revealed that he “had a bit of a fever” but felt in good condition. Despite his illness, Pan was determined to give it his all and set a new world record.
Pan was already the Asian record holder and is the first Chinese male to hold the world record in the 100-meter freestyle. At the event, his teammates also achieved major accomplishments. Ji Xinjie, Zhang Zhanshuo, and Wang Haoyu helped China ease to 4x100m relay gold, with Zhang notably breaking the 50-second barrier in the discipline with a time of 48.62 seconds. China’s previous lack of podium finishes in the event made the team’s medal win even more significant.
The success of Pan and his teammates at Doha has put China firmly on track to compete for medals at Paris Olympics next year.