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9-year-old Chinese girl becomes youngest swimmer to cross Qiongzhou Strait

(People's Daily Online)    14:07, August 16, 2019

(Photo provided by the interviewee)

A 9-year-old girl recently hit the headlines in China after she became the youngest person to swim across the Qiongzhou Strait linking the island province of Hainan with the Chinese mainland on Aug. 7.

Zhou Yihan took 13 hours to complete the challenge,  starting from Haikou, Hainan province and finishing in Zhanjiang, Guangdong province.

Nine out of the 10 swimmers attempting to cross the strait were adults, and Zhou was the only child. Every challenger had a support boat to provide lighting guidance. However, challengers were not allowed to board during the swim or else they would be disqualified.

During the 26.7-kilometer swim, Zhou endured frequent jellyfish attacks and overcame strong currents. Her father tried to persuade her to give up, but she persisted and finally made it.

Zhou, who started learning to swim when she was one, said she was inspired by her father, who swam across the strait last year. To prepare for the challenge, she trained six days per week for a year, and her father hired a retired swimming athlete to coach her.

"Some said that I'm awesome while some criticize my parents for placing me in such a dangerous environment. I don't think it's a big deal, because I like swimming and this is something that I wanted to do," Zhou said.

"My father never forced me to swim, and he's OK with me doing any sport as long as I keep doing it," Zhou said.

Unlike many Chinese parents who place importance on their child's academic performance, Zhou's father said he didn't want to give her too much pressure in this regard.

"We hope to shape her personality through sports such as swimming, rock-climbing, trampolining and gymnastics," her father said.


(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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