2020 JAPAN SWIM
- April 1st – April 8th
- Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Tokyo, Japan
- 50m (LCM)
- Sole OLY qualifying competition for Japanese swimmers
- Japanese OLY Selection Procedures analysis
The highly-anticipated 2020 Japan Swim is still on schedule to begin April 1st, despite the nation’s sole Olympic-qualifying meet potentially being closed to spectators.
Daiya Seto is the only Japanese swimmer to have already qualified individually for the home nation-hosted Summer Olympic Games by way of his winning gold in both the men’s 200m IM and 400m IM events at the 2019 FINA World Aquatic Championships.
He will still be swimming at the Japan Swim, however, most likely contesting the men’s 200m fly and potentially the 200m free to vie for a spot on Japan’s 4x200m free relay.
Taking the spotlight in the men’s IM events in Seto’s stead, however, will be the 2016 Olympic champion Kosuke Hagino.
26-year-old Hagino has had an up-and-down past couple of years. He hasn’t been at his best in the pool, producing times far from his 2016 and 2017 days, but the man has made strides in his personal life, including taking time to address his mental health, getting married and fathering his first child.
And the Bridgestone man is on a mission to represent his nation at home this summer, reportedly entering both IM events in addition to the men’s 200m free at the Japan Swim.
Per the selection policy, Hagino would need to hit a minimum 200m IM time of 1:57.98 and a minimum 400m IM time of 4:15.24, paired with the correct race placement, to earn a spot on the Olympic roster in these individual events.
Hagino has proven he is capable of exceeding both of those efforts, owning a personal best of 1:55.07 and 4:06.05, albeit with outings from nearly 4 years ago. However, the new dad was the two-time silver medalist at the 2018 Asian Games in the IM events, collecting runner-up status in the 200m IM in 1:56.75 and the 400m IM in 4:10.30.
Additionally, he notched a 200m IM time of 1:58.67 and a 400m IM time of 4:15.79 in January of 2019 before taking a 5-month hiatus from the sport, both training, and competition-wise.
Currently, Hagino’s season-best 400m IM time of 4:16.86 from last November situates him as 20th in the world, while his 1:59.23 season-best 200m IM effort ranks him 18th.
In terms of race placement come the Japan Swim, one domestic IM rival has been taken out of contention already, as Hiromasa Fujimori‘s appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) was denied. You can read more about Fujimori’s doping case here.
In addition to any swimmer who may simply step up and have a blowout swim at Trials, Hagino’s primary competitors in the 400m IM include Takeharu Fujimori, Tomoya Takeuchi and Yuki Ikari. For the 200m IM, Keita Sunama, Fujimori and Juran Mizohata look likely to give the Olympian a run for his money.
Finally, in the 200m free, a minimum time of 1:45.76 is needed to make the Japanese Olympic team in this event individually. That time isn’t near off the national record of 1:45.22 Katsuhiro Matsumoto clocked en route to silver at the 2019 World Championships.
The more likely scenario is that Hagino would race the 200m free at the Japan Swim as a means to get a spot on the 4x200m freestyle relay.
An average time of 1:47.08 is needed to nab a spot, which is a much more attainable proposition for Hagino. At the 2018 Asian Games, he punched a split of 1:46.50 to help his 4x200m free squad nab gold ahead of the Chinese.
At the 2019 World Championships, the combination of Kotaro Takahashi (1:4818), Matsumoto (1:45.31), Keisuke Yoshida (1:47.72) and Seto (1:48.02) pre-qualified for Tokyo by way of its 7:09.23 time that led to a 9th place finish. The top 12 teams for each relay earn a spot at the 2020 Olympic Games.