2016 Swammy Awards Video: Asian Male Swimmer Of The Year

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Despite being dealt a big blow in 2015 where a biking accident resulted in a broken elbow and Japanese swimmer Kosuke Hagino out of the 2015 FINA World Championships, the 22-year-old fierce competitor dedicated himself to a mindful and measured recovery. Hagino took his time, opting out of competition for the remainder of 2015 then quietly returned to the pool in January 2016.

Immediately upon his return, Hagino was up to form, racing his way to gold in the 200m IM and 400m IM events at the 2016 Kitajima Cup. His respective times of 1:57.73 and 4:11.38 held up within the top 3 in the world at the time, firing off a warning shot to IM competitors everywhere that his Olympic campaign kicked off on the right foot.

With American stalwarts Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte out of the path of a possible 400m IM Olympic victory in Rio, Hagino took full advantage. He owned the grueling race from start to finish, ultimately notching the win in a time of 4:06.05, a new Asian Record.  The monstrous swim broke Hagino’s previous record of 4:07.61 set at the 2013 Japanese Championships and marked the stealthy athlete’s first individual win at either an Olympics or World Championships.

His impressive outing was followed by another battle in the sprint IM event, with Hagino chasing Phelps for the gold in the 200m. Phelps ran away with the gold, but Hagino scored the silver medal, producing a huge 1:56.61. With that performance, Hagino became the 7th fastest performer of all time in the event.

Although Hagino couldn’t make the magic happen in the enormously stacked men’s 200m freestyle final where he settled for 7th in 1:45.90, his lead-off on the Japanese 4x200m freestyle relay helped give them the edge for bronze in Rio. Hagino threw down an opening split of 1:45.34 to come in as 2nd fastest only behind USA’s Conor Dwyer.

Hagino underwent endoscopic surgery for his elbow and would be out of the water for a month beginning in September. He plans to return to competition in April 2016 at the Japanese National Championships.


In no particular order

  • Joseph Schooling, Singapore – Schooling had maybe the splashiest single win in all of the Olympics when upended the back-and-forth between Michael Phelps and Chad le Clos with a 100 fly gold medal. Before that, he broke the U.S. Open and NCAA Records in the 100 and 200 fly in the American collegiate ranks. Schooling now has two paths forward to grow his star globally (though he’s as hot as hot can be in Singapore): either add a second event in long course, or continue to pound down his time in the 100 fly and chase the World Record. His current best, from Rio, is a 50.39. Phelps’ World Record, from 2009, is a 49.82.
  • Dimitriy Balandin, Kazakhstan – Balandin made history at the 2016 Olympic Games by becoming his nation’s first-ever Olympic medalist in swimming. He soared to the top of the podium in the men’s 200m breaststroke event, winning gold in a time of 2:07.46. That checks Balandin in as the 9th fastest performer of all-time in the event.
  • Sun Yang, China – Although Sun Yang was beaten by Australian rival Mack Horton in the men’s 400m freestyle event to kick-off his 2016 Olympics campaign, Sun fired back big time in the men’s 200m free event. Among the likes of World Champion James Guy, multiple medalist Chad Le Clos and the aforementioned Hagino, Sun Yang held his own and touched in 1:44.65 for the gold with the only sub-1:45-second time of the studly set of swimmers.
  • Wang Shun, China – 22-year-old Wang Shun broke through in 2016, taking the bronze behind Phelps and Hagino in the 200m IM in Rio. That was a successful follow-up to the bronze he earned in the same event in Kazan. Not resting on his laurels after this summer’s Olympics, Wang threw down a 200m IM time of 1:56.66 while competing at the Asian Swimming Championships this past November. That time would have beaten the 1:57.05 he produced in Rio and registers Wang as the 7th-fastest performer of all-time.

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bobo gigi
5 years ago

Weird you wrote that Hagino produced a huge 1.56.61 in the 200 IM final and became the 7th performer of all time. He was already the 3rd fastest ever behind Lochte and MP with a PB of 1.55.07 made last April. He totally underperformed. I haven’t still understood his very poor performance especially after what he did in the 400 IM. MP was amazing but Hagino should have battled for gold. We have never seen him in the race.

5 years ago

This picture sums it all up.
Phelp’s gold medal ????On Asian swimmer of year .
Hagino underachieved in Rio. His 4.06.0 was amazing but all the promise and I came away from that race thinking 5 more metres and Chase would of beat him and no one thinks of chase in the same league as hagino.
200free he should of won, his relay was good for the Japanese and I’m glad they won bronze.
His 200im was poor, that was his moment, to be a star, I know everybody loves Phelps and dare anyone say a bad word about him on this site, but now we are back in reality most people who watch swimming once… Read more »

Reply to  Skoorbnagol
5 years ago

To be fair, he did win a gold, silver, and bronze medal… at the Olympics. 200 IM was underwhelming though, but his 1:55.0 would still have been a silver. The 200 free I can’t really say what happened, maybe still feeling it from the 400 IM final.
I think his main focus was obviously on the 400 IM, since it was the event he had the best chance of winning.

5 years ago

Why put a picture of hagino winning a silver? He did win gold in rio!!

Reply to  Murica
5 years ago

Because Phelps. Duh.

Reply to  Markster
5 years ago

Not sure if you actually understood the statement there buddy

5 years ago

I love how Swimswam had these awards broken down to continents, but then once they got to North America, they chose to award them by country, USA and Canada. I wonder why Mexico was left out…

bobo gigi
Reply to  Whatever
5 years ago

They have given the German awards too. And Germany is in Europe.

5 years ago

How is Schooling not at least an honorable mention?

Reply to  SamH
5 years ago

Maybe they forgot Singapore belongs to Asia

Reply to  SamH
5 years ago

I think Seto has a solid year too.

Reply to  SamH
5 years ago

Hey guys, just a total brain fart on our part. It’s been a long year to say the least :-).

It’s a tough call, because of how splashy Schooling’s win was, but on the balance, with Hagino getting a second medal, and two Asian Records, he’s still the fair choice, outweighing Schooling’s secondary results that would be his NCAA performance.

Reply to  Braden Keith
5 years ago

It’s a tough choice between a King and an Emperor. But Braden got them the right way round! Well done!

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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