Amidst many of the world’s best swimmers having limited competitions in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Watanabe’s time ranks the World Championships medalist 4th among the 2020/21 season rankings. His compatriot Shoma Sato currently owns the top LCM 200 breaststroke time in the world with the big-time 2:07.02 he produced at last month’s Student Swimming Championships.
With the top tier of men’s 200m breaststrokers like Watanabe seemingly putting up 2:07 and 2:08 times as a matter of course, I wanted to put some numbers around how far this event has exponentially come in a relatively short period of time.
I grabbed all the men’s LCM 200 breaststroke times in the 2:06-, 2:07- and 2:08-ranges spanning 2010 and 2019 to take a look at how many more members of the pack entered new time brackets from year-to-year.
In 2010, for example, there were just 2 swimmers in the world that year who got under the 2:09 barrier. Only 2 years later that total more than doubled to 5 swimmers under 2:09, with an additional 3 entering the 2:07-zone.
The 2016 Olympic year was an especially notable breakout time period for the event, as 8 swimmers logged a time as 2:07.XX. This led to our first-ever swimmers getting into the 2:06 zone in Watanabe (2:06.67) and Russia’s Anton Chupkov (2:06.96) less than a year later.
Flash forward to 2019 and Chupkov landed on the record books with a new world standard of 2:06.12 posted in Gwangju, with his time now representing a real and present danger to the 2:06 barrier.
With next year’s Olympics bringing the best of the best to Tokyo, we will most likely need to revisit this data table with a new time column entered once those Games are done and dusted.
Men’s LCM 200 Breaststroke Top-Tier Times 2010-2019
|2:06.XX||2:07.XX||2:08.XX||Total Swimmers under 2:09 for the year|