2019 Asia Coach of the Year: Norimasa Hirai
It just might be the longest Swammy streak currently in existence. Norimasa Hirai has won Asia’s Coach of the Year award for four years running now.
Hirai’s swimmers won five of Japan’s six medals at the 2019 World Championships, including both golds. Hirai has guided Daiya Seto to the best year of his career at age 25. Seto won 200 and 400 IM gold at Worlds, along with the 200 fly silver. On top of that, Seto was an impact addition to the International Swimming League, helping Energy Standard win the league title.
Hirai also coaches Ippei Watanabe, who was third in the 200 breast behind two world record-breakers. And Hirai pupil Yui Ohashi took bronze in the 400 IM behind the two most recent world record-holders as well.
in no particular order
- Stephan Widmar, Singapore: the head coach for Singapore Swimming, Widmar oversaw a year of dominance over both the region and the national record books. Singapore crushed the field at the Southeast Asian Games to the tune of 37 total medals (the next-closest nation was Vietnam with 25) and 23 golds (Vietnam had 10). In addition, over the year 2019, Singaporean swimmers lowered national records in a whopping 25 events, 19 in long course and 6 in short course.
- Xu Guoyi, China: Xu Guoyi has his star pupil, Ye Shiwen, completing a massive career rebound. After winning Olympic gold in 2012 at the age of 16, Ye dropped off the map with no major medals between 2014 and 2018. But she roared back in 2019 with dual silver medals in the 200 and 400 IMs at Worlds. Xu Guoyi also coaches backstroker Xu Jiayu, who won gold in arguably the most loaded field of the 2019 World Championships, the men’s 100 back.