The men’s 200m breaststroke silver medalist and bronze medalist from the 2019 FINA World Aquatic Championships will soon be training together, as Japan’s Ippei Watanabe is set to travel to Aussie Matt Wilson‘s training base next month. The move mimics what fellow Japanese swimming star Rikako Ikee did last year, traveling to Griffith University to train alongside Emma McKeon.
20-year-old Wilson crushed a new Australian National Record in the semi-finals of the men’s 200m breaststroke in Gwangju this summer, nailing a new lifetime best of 2:06.67 to set himself up for the final. That time also matched Watanabe’s World Record set at a domestic meet in 2017, a time which marked the first occasion a swimmer had ever been under 2:07 in the 2breast event.
Wilson ultimately finished with World Championships silver in a time of 2:06.68, introducing himself as a genuine medal threat at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
As for 22-year-old Watanabe, the Japanese National Record holder saw his World Record bite the dust outright in that World Championships final, as Russian Anton Chupkov surged to the wall in a 2:06.12 stunner. Watanabe still landed on the podium, however, snagging the bronze in a mark of 2:06.73, his fastest time since that 2017 World Record-setting performance.
Per Manichi News, Watanabe is making 2 major changes in his training plan less than a year out from Tokyo. First, since Watanabe has graduated from Waseda University, the ace will be relocating to Japan National Sports Science Center. He will train alongside Masato Sakai, the 200m fly silver medalist at the 2016 Olympic Games.
Additionally, Watanabe will be venturing to Australia, joining Wilson at his SOPAC training grounds. The plan is for Watanabe and Wilson to spend time training together, continuing to push one another in the lead-up to Tokyo. The amount of time Watanabe will spend with Wilson is undetermined, but they’ll be led by SOPAC coach Adam Kable, the man under whom Wilson has been training since he was 14 years of age.
Translation assistance provided by Rebecca Nishikawa- Roy.