Born May 24, 1994 Daiya Seto is a versatile Japanese swimmer who specializes primarily in the butterfly and IM events. Originally from Moroyama, Japan Seto just missed qualifying for the 2012 Japanese Olympic Team at just 16 years old, but has since developed into both a Short Course and Long Course World Champion. Seto is among a young and talented group that is leading Japan in one of its most successful swimming eras.
After narrowly missing the 2012 Olympic Team, Seto focused on the 2012 FINA World Cup, where he competed in every stop in the cup to finish in 4th overall in the rankings. Later in the year he then swam at the 2012 World Short Course Championships, which ended up being the meet where he won his first international medals. Seto won his first World Championship title in the 400-meter IM touching in a new Asian Record. He then competed in the shorter IM event against a strong Ryan Lochte, and although Seto couldn’t outswim Lochte, Seto did touch in 2nd for his first silver medal of a World Championships.
2013 World Championships (Barcelona, Spain)
Although Seto had just won his first gold and silver medal at the Short Course World Championships a year ago, but he was still largely a newcomer. In the preliminary heats of the 200-meter IM at the 2013 Long Course World Championships Seto swam a best time securing a spot in the finals. He swam just a bit slower in the final, but was good enough to land him in 7th overall. In his best event, the 400-meter IM, Seto qualified 1st out of the prelims, and surprised many people when he won the event, effectively winning his first Long Course World Championships gold medal.
2015 World Championships (Kazan, Russia)
After bursting onto the swimming scene Seto was expected to be a huge force at the 2015 World Championships in Kazan. At the meet however, Seto seemed to be a non-factor. Coming into the meet ranked 2nd in the world in his three best events, the 400-meter IM, the 200-meter IM and the 200-meter fly.
After failing to make the final in the 200-meter IM, Seto took on the 200-meter fly, which was an event that SwimSwam had predicted him to win. He looked strong through the semi’s, but dropped back in the finals, falling to 6th overall. For his third event of the meet, which was the 400-meter IM, Seto stepped up to the plate. After leading the way for the entire race Seto touched first in his fastest time of the year, and won back-to-back 400-meter IM World Championship titles.
2016 Olympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Seto battled it out with his country mate, Kosuke Hagino and American Chase Kalisz in the 400 meter medley on the opening night in Rio. He touched first at the end of the butterfly leg, but Hagino took control on the backstroke leg. He dropped further to third during the breaststroke but had done enough early on to take bronze in 4:09.71. His teammate finished with gold, ending Team USA’s five year streak of winning the event at the Olympics.
Seto also swam the 200 meter butterfly in Rio, finishing 5th in the final in 1:54.82.
2017 World Championships (Budapest, Hungary)
After a disappointing World Championships two years before, Seto managed to make it on the podium. In the 200 meter butterfly he was up against Chad le Clos and Laszlo Cseh who took the gold and silver last World Championships and again in 2017. Seto finished with the bronze in 1:54.21.
He added another bronze in the 400 meter medley on the last day after fending off Britain’s Max Litchfield for the final podium spot. Seto finished in 4:09.14 behind USA’s Chase Kalisz and Hungary’s David Verraszto. In the 200 meter medley, Seto finished 5th in 1:56.97.
2018 Pan Pacific Championships (Tokyo, Japan)
On day 1, Daiya raced in the 400 IM, where although his time fell short (4:12.60) of his best, he was able to secure a bronze medal on home soil behind American Chase Kalisz and countryman Kosuke Hagino. Seto kept the ball rolling on day 2, touching first in the 200 fly (1:54.34) to win his first home turf gold.
2018 Asian Games (Jakarta, Indonesia)
Seto kept his momentum rolling in Jakarta, as he swam to Asian titles in both the 200 fly (1:54.53) and the 400 IM (4:08.79). His 200 fly victory marked his 2nd Asian Games title is an many meets.
2018 Short Course World Championships (Hangzhou, China)
Seto won the 200 butterfly title with a world record swim of 1:48.24, besting Chad le Clos’ mark of 1:48.56, which had stood since Nov. 5, 2013. The time was also a personal best for Seto by more than half a second (1:48.92 at the World Short Course Championships, 12/7/14).
Seto also won the 400 IM title (3:56.43), just a tenth of a second off his personal best, set at the 2014 Short Course Worlds.
2018 Asian Male Swimmer of the Year
Seto had a massive competition schedule in 2018, swimming at Pan Pacific Championships, Asian Games, the World Cup circuit, and the Short Course World Championships. Topping the podium at least once at all of these meets, Seto is SwimSwam’s 2018 Asian Male Swimmer of the Year.
2019 World Championships (Gwangju, South Korea)
Daiya started his world champs off strong, winning a silver medal on Day 4 in the 200 fly. Clocking a lifetime best of 1:53.86, Seto touched 2nd behind Kristof Milak, who smashed the world record in 1:50.73.
Seto came back on Day 5 to win the 200 IM, upsetting defending champion Chase Kalisz and continuing his monumental year with another best time of 1:56.14.
Seto capped his world champs with gold in the 400 IM, touching 1st in a time of 4:08.95, making him the only man to win 3 world titles in this event.
2019 Asian Male Swimmer of the Year
After a double world championship title year, Daiya Seto repeated as SwimSwam’s Asian Male of the Year.