October 4, 2007 / 3:22 AM / in 12 years

Chinese girl goes on 3-hour swim with bound limbs

BEIJING (Reuters) - A 10-year-old Chinese girl went on a three-hour river swim with her limbs bound, state media reported, the latest endurance feat to raise questions of child abuse.

Huang Li, from Hunan province, swam in a tributary of the Yangtze River for three km (1.8 miles), hoping to eventually fulfill her goal of making it into the Guinness Book of World Records, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Next time, she will swim further and I’ll follow her in a boat to ensure safety,” the report quoted Huang’s father, who called his daughter a swimming prodigy, as saying.

Huang’s feat followed that of eight-year-old Zhang Huimin, who ran 3,560 km (2,225 miles) from the southern province of Hainan to Beijing, covering the equivalent of one-and-a-half marathons a day while her father followed on a motorized bicycle.

Zhang’s father was forced to deny accusations of abuse leveled by domestic media and some experts, who said the exercise regime would damage the girl’s body and affect her growth.

Huang’s swim also raised eyebrows.

“It’s dangerous to swim with bound limbs. What if she had muscle cramps and drowned?” the report quoted a university student surnamed Gao as saying.

China is increasingly obsessed with athleticism and record-breaking as it prepares to host the 2008 Olympics in Beijing next August. Expectations are running high among the public that it will top the Games’ medals table.

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