18-Year-Old Shoma Sato Scorches 2:07.58 200 Breast; Dips Under FINA WJR*


While competing on day 3 of the 2020 Kosuke Kitajima Cup in Tokyo, Japan, 18-year-old Shoma Sato busted out the best 200m breaststroke time of his young career to top the podium in 2:07.58.

In the process, Sato beat out former World Record holder and the 2019 World Championships bronze medalist in this event in Gwangju last summer, Ippei Watanabe, staking his claim on a possible national title and Olympic berth when the nation’s Trials come in April.

After establishing himself as the top-seeded swimmer today with a morning effort of 2:10.39, Sato unleashed a lifetime best of 2:07.58 to snag the gold here at Tatsumi.

Splitting 1:01.41/1:06.17, Sato narrowly defeated Watanabe, who touched a fingernail behind in 2:07.86. Watanabe opened in 1:01.47 but finished in 1:06.39 to fall short at this early 2020 meet.

Entering this Kosuke Kitajima Cup, Sato’s personal best rested at the 2:09.21 he produced at the Japanese Student Swimming Championships last September. That outing dipped under the 2:09.39 that FINA officially recognizes as the World Junior Record. That time was done by China’s Qin Haiyang at the 2017 World Championships.

However, Qin was faster than his 2:09.39 at least twice in 2017, when he was still eligible for World Junior Records, including a 2:08.71 at the Chinese Championships and a 2:07.35 at the Chinese National Games. Neither of those times was recognized as the WJR, however, when the slower time from the World Championships was.

Sato swam a time of 2:09.56 to snag silver at the 2019 World Junior Championships but entirely frog-hopped the 2:08-range with his monster 2:07.58 mark tonight.

The teen’s 2:07.58 now ranks him #2 in the world this season.

Men’s 200 Breaststroke Top 5 Performers Since September 2019:

  1. Zac Stubblety-Cook (AUS) 2:07.28, 12/14/19
  2. Shoma Sato (JPN) 2:07.58, 01/26/20
  3. Anton Chupkov (RUS) 2:07.71, 11/03/19
  4. Ippei Watanabe (JPN) 2:07.86, 01/26/20
  5. Arno Kamminga (NED) 2:07.96, 10/06/19

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Wow. Yet another one of the Japanese performing excellently in January. Let’s see if he can keep it up.


I hope he doesn’t pull a yamaguchi

Samuel Huntington

Watanabe is now #4.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

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