Injured Ippei Watanabe Sets Sights On New 200 Breast WR On Home Turf

21-year-old Ippei Watanabe of Japan rocked the world in January of 2017 by clocking a new World Record in the men’s 200m breaststroke. Touching in an other-worldly 2:06.67, Watanabe raced his way to the new global mark by becoming the first man ever under the 2:07 barrier.

Since that time, Watanabe has continued to make waves in the 200m breast event, but has been well on the other side of the 2:07 threshold. At last year’s World Championships Watanabe scored bronze behind Russia’s Anton Chupkov and Japanese teammate Yasuhiro Koseki, earning a time of 2:07.47. So far in 2018, Watanabe was beaten by Koseki once again at the Japan Swim, touching in 2:08.86 for silver. A few weeks later a Koseki-less final at the 2018 Japan Open saw Watanabe snatch gold in a solid 2:08.30.

Speaking to Sankei News recently, Watanabe said of his performances so far this year, “I have been training very hard and competed pretty tired. I felt numb toward the end, which made me realize I needed to train harder for the summer.”

Ultimately, the Waseda University athlete revealed that he has been dealing with a knee injury. Tests performed in January of this year reportedly revealed that his kicking motion was impacting his knee due to lack of support from his inner thigh muscles.

“I was told by specialists that I would face this type of pain someday, but in a way I was fortunate to…because I still have two more years for the 2020 Olympics.”

Recovering from the injury is pushing Watanabe towards his goal of overtaking his own World Record at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships in August. Inspiring him is his own name and time listed on a plague adorning lane 4 at the Pan Pacs venue, the Tatsumi International Aquatics Centre. Along with Japanese breaststroking legend Kosuke Kitajima, the men’s names and times are commemorated on the plaque right where their respective WR’s were set.

“The world fastest speed power lies in Lane 4,” says Watanabe. “I wish to renew this plaque with my new world record at Pan Pac in August.

“The 200 M Breaststroke is a very competitive domestically already, especially with Koseki, silver medalist from the 2017 World Championship.” Watanabe says, “I know I need to put all my effort at the prelim in order to secure Lane 4.”

Translation assistance provided by Rebecca Nishikawa- Roy.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

7 Comment threads
10 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
12 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
bear drinks beer

Maybe Anton Chupkov will break it first at the Euros, which is earlier than the pan pacs.😉


Of those men’s world records which look breakable by current swimmers (so not the 800 free, 200 free, maybe 200 back), it’s strange that the 200 breast world record is probably the most vulnerable to multiple swimmers, whilst the 100 is one of, if not the, records which is only under any meaningful threat from one man (the other that comes to mind is 100 fly, but Schooling has been 50.39, no one else is remotely near 57 low).


I agree completely


I feel like the 200 Br WR is one of those few records that has the potential to be significantly lowered and lowered by several people. Now that we have a human that can go 57 low 100 Br (and clearly that is one man), I feel like if paced properly, a 2:04 is feasible. I think even those in the 58’s could realistically swim a high 2:05, low 2:06.

Historically, if some of the greatest 200 breastrokers of all time went 58’s (Barrowman, Gyurta, maybe even Prenot), their 200 would have easily correlated into sub 2:06’s.


Licon, Cordes, and Miller all have sub 1:50 marks in SCY which translates to 2:04-2:05. Cordes has been under world record at the 150 about 5 times. MP says the 200 back is the most difficult 200, but I might think its the 200 breast, especially the last 50.


We all know that translation usually means nothing… Peaty would probably not be able to touch the 100 breast SCY records or even the 50 as his start, UW and turns are terrible.. but no one is not even close to him on LCM..


Have to say that the 200 back looks less likely to be broken. Several men have been within a second of 2:06.67 in the past few years in the breast (Gyurta, Akihiro, Prenot, Cordes, Qin, Chupkov, etc.), but not a single man has been within a second (in textile) of 1:51.92 (the closest being Lochte at 1:52.96).

Honestly, I think the fact that it’s been broken at all means that the 200 breast is the easiest record.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

Read More »