The 16-year-old produced a mind-boggling final 50m freestyle on Sunday that was quicker than Ryan Lochte, the winner of the men's equivalent.
It saw her cut more than a second off Stephanie Rice's 2008 record and the Chinese swimmer's effort has caused a sensation.
Defending champion Rice, who qualified ninth, said: 'I really just wanted to get into the semis. I knew I was against Ye Shiwen. She's a great 400 swimmer, she comes home like a gun in that freestyle.'
Of Ye's 400 Individual Medley, the Australian said: 'Insane. I mean I didn't see it, I was way over and behind, so I didn't really see her coming home, but that split coming home was out of control, faster than everyone but (Michael) Phelps I think.
'So if I was up with her I would have had no chance anyways.'
Dinko Jukic qualified fastest in the men's 200m Butterfly heats in 1:54.79, with Phelps back in fifth.