Video courtesy of Alex Pussieldi
Earlier this month we saw just the 3rd 200m breaststroke performance in history render a time under the 2:07 threshold, as Russia’s Anton Chupkov took the European Championships title in a mark of 2:06.86. Before his race in Glasgow on August 6th, Chupkov nailed the 2nd fastest performance ever with his time of 2:06.90 clocked en route to his winning World Championships gold in Budapest last year.
But setting the precedent ahead of the Russian was Japan’s emerging breaststroking weapon Ippei Watanabe, the Waseda University athlete who rocked a new World Record time of 2:06.67 while competing at a domestic meet in January 2017. Watanabe had previously owned the World Junior Record in the event, but his WR-setting performance introduced the now-21-year-old to the international swimming scene on the senior level.
Watanabe has since beefed up his resume even further, having earned a bronze in the event at last year’s World Championships, while most recently claiming gold in a new Pan Pacs Record time at the quadrennial championships held in Tokyo just last week.
Of the 200m distance in Jakarta at this year’s Asian Games, Watanabe has made it known lowering his own WR is indeed on his mind. But, he’ll need to cross paths with countryman Yasuhiro Koseki, Kazakhstan’s Olympic gold medalist Dmitriy Balandin and China’s Qin Hiayang on the way to the Asian Games podium.