2021 KOSUKE KITAJIMA CUP
- Friday, January 22nd – Sunday, January 24th
- Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Centre
- LCM (50m)
- SwimSwam Preview
- Initial Entries (in Japanese)
- Day 1 Recap/Day 2 Recap
- Live Stream
Japan’s Shoma Sato just became the world’s 4th fastest 200m breaststroker of all-time.
While competing on day 3 of the 2021 Kosuke Kitajima Cup, an annual competition known to render some eye-popping performances, Sato fired off a monster personal best of 2:06.78 to take the men’s 200m breast title.
The outing shaved .24 off of Sato’s previous lifetime best, which sat at the menacing 2:07.02 the teen already threw down this season at last October’s Japan Student Championships. That previous PB rendered Sato already among the best-ever as the 6th fastest performer all-time.
After capturing the top seed this morning in Tokyo with a solid heats swim of 2:08.25, Sato got to work in the final, splitting 1:01.18/1:05.60 to produce the 2:06.78 near-national record-breaking swim. Sato’s performance tonight falls just .11 outside of Ippei Watanabe‘s Japanese standard of 2:06.67, a time that once represented the World Record.
With his 2:06.78, Sato, who just turned 19 last November, now joins an exclusive club of sub-2:07 performers, with the only other members being as follows to comprise the top 5 performers all-time:
- Anton Chupkov (RUS) – 2:06.12, 2019
- Matt Wilson (AUS) – 2:06.67, 2019
- Ippei Watanabe (JPN) – 2:06.67, 2017
- Shoma Sato (JPN) – 2:06.78, 2021
- Arno Kamminga (NED) – 2:06.85, 2020
Sato also overtakes Kamminga, who put up his 2:06.85 just last month, as the top swimmer in the world this season. But what does it tell us about the massive talent in this event that the top 2 swimmers at this point in pre-Olympic time are both 2:06? For extra reading, take a look at our analysis of the men’s 200m breaststroke over the last decade here.
The all-time top 5 performers are all active and vying for Olympic glory, which means we’re bound to see a potentially history-making set of prelims/semifinals/finals come this summer’s Olympic Games.
Before that, however, it very well may take a near-World Record to even make it onto the Japanese squad in this event, with Sato, Watanabe, Yasuhiro Koseki and others fighting for the two open Olympic roster spots up for the taking at April’s Japan Swim.