Wu Peng in action during the men's 200m butterfly heats at the 15th FINA World Championships in Barcelona, Spain on July 30, 2013. (Xinhua/Xie Haining)
QINGDAO, March 20 (Xinhua) -- 36-year-old Wu Peng returned to the pool after a 10-year hiatus from competitive swimming at China's national spring swimming championships here on Monday.
Wu clocked a time of 23.81 seconds in the 50m freestyle to secure a spot in the top-level National Championships in May.
"My last national competition was in 2013. I felt nervous before the race, and I could not sleep well last night. I felt rusty during the 50 meters, so I could not help taking several breaths, when I would usually hold my breath during the whole race," Wu said.
"I tried to reduce my weight by about six or seven kilograms but it was clearly not enough. I should have swum more swiftly on the surface instead of diving under the water," said Peng, who ended Michael Phelps' nine-year undefeated streak in the 200m butterfly in the USA national meets in 2011.
"My result in the 50m freestyle was not as good as I expected, but fortunately, the time was good enough to qualify for the national championships. I have two more months to work on my physical training and endurance."
Wu will also compete in the 50m and 100m butterfly later in the week, but will not compete in his previous favorite event, the 200m butterfly, despite winning a silver and three bronze medals at World Championships between 2005 and 2013.
"The national record of 200m is still mine, but I will not try to break it anymore. I can only compete in sprint events like the 50m."
"My goal is to try to earn a ticket to the Asian Games to be held in my hometown Hangzhou in September. For the last 10 years, I was on the pool deck in the audience, but this time, I want to jump into the pool and compete again for my hometown," said Wu, who won three gold medals in the 2002 Asian Games in Busan when he was just 15. ■