Disclaimer: Dolfin Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The Dolfin Swim is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.
18-year-old Shoma Sato is quickly making a name for himself in one of the world’s deepest breaststroke nations. His 2:07.58 in the 200 breast this week puts him in the top 20 of all-time for swimmers of any nationality.
For the 2019 season (September 2018 through August 2019), Japan had five men ranked in the top 25 in the world in the 200 breast. That’s more than any nation besides the United States, which had seven of the top 25. (The only others close were Russia with four and Australia/Great Britain with two apiece).
Facing one of the toughest Olympic qualifying fields of any nation, the young Sato is steadily rising. He was 2:09.56 to win World Juniors silver last summer, checking in as the 25th-fastest swimmer of any age in the world for the season. But this week at the Kitajima Cup in Japan, Sato went 2:07.58, cutting almost two full seconds from his previous time and moving to #2 in the world this season – just three tenths behind Australia’s Zach Stubblety-Cook.
Sato moves up to #19 all-time, just .07 behind the legendary Kosuke Kitajima, whose name still adorns the high-profile meet where Sato had his big swim. Only three men have ever been under 2:07 in the event, but Sato has a chance to join them, either at the Tokyo Olympics in front of a home crowd, or perhaps even earlier.
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