• Ning Zetao is one of the most dominant names in this year's swimming competitions.

Ning Zetao is one of the most dominant names in this year's swimming competitions. (Photo : CFP)

Aiming to fare well in the upcoming Rio Olympics 2016, China has intensified its efforts this year to strengthen its swimming power, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

China's men's pool, which had been lagging behind its women counterpart, especially made a historical breakthrough for the past year.

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At the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia, in August, the country stunned the world as 22-year-old Ning Zetao emerged victorious in the blue-ribbon men's 100-meter freestyle final, scoring 47.84 seconds.

Ning became the first in China and Asia to enter the event's final round and grab a championship tilt. It was also a first for Asians to break the 48-second barrier in the 100-meter category.

Earlier last year in the Asian Games in South Korea, the Chinese navy lieutenant has proven he is a name to reckon with in the swimming arena as he snatched titles in the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle, 4 by 100-meter freestyle relay and 4 by 100-meter mixed relay categories.

Ning, who holds the Asian record of 100m for 47.65 seconds, is one of China's most famous athletes. Along with Sun Yang, he is expected to take home a medal during the Rio Olympic 2016.

London Olympic champion Sun was able to redeem himself this year after his doping ban was revealed in 2014. At the Kazan worlds, the 23-year-old swimmer won the 400-meter and 800-meter free titles.

In September, he grabbed three titles at the National Championships, his last competition for 2016.

Meanwhile, the Chinese women's swimming team has dimmed a little as butterfly icons Liu Zige and Jiao Liuyang delivered poor results. Both have failed to qualify for the Kazan worlds.

Nonetheless, youngster Zhang Yufei took a bronze for the women's pool. Coached by Liu Haitao, she has been considered as the next butterfly queen.

Chinese swimming head coach Chen Yunpeng revealed that the country may win less gold medals in the Rio Olympics than what it won in London.

However, Chen shared that the world may see breakthrough performances from rising Chinese swimming icons.