23-year-old Olympic medalist Daiya Seto of Japan quietly produced a speedy 200m breaststroke time of 2:04.57 while competing at the Australian Short Course Championships last weekend. Following a training stint under Michael Bohl at Griffith University, Seto raced at the Adelaide-hosted meet and collected wins in the 100m IM, 200m butterfly, 200m IM and the 200m breast.
What makes the latter victory intriguing is taking into account how dangerous the Waseda University graduate is becoming in what was once his ‘off’ event. For perspective, his 200m breast sub-2:05 mark from Adelaide would rank 10th among the all-time top U.S performers in the event and would have placed 6th at last year’s Short Course World Championships, ahead of Olympian Josh Prenot.
Interestingly, Seto’s personal best in the 200 SCM breaststroke rests at the 2:03.81 he scored at the World Cup Beijing last year, a time which checked him in as the 9th fastest performer in the world that year.
These times and stats would mean one thing if Seto indeed pursued the breaststroke more aggressively as an individual event on the elite championship level, but the data means something else when taking his IM speciality into consideration.
Seto joined gold medal-winning teammate Kosuke Hagino on the podium in Rio, taking the bronze in the 400m IM bronze behind American Chase Kalisz and Hagino’s gold. The race was primarily between Hagino and Kalisz, who each wound up finishing just .70 apart in respective times of 4:06.05 and 4:06.75.
For Seto’s part, he was outsplit by Kalisz by over a second and a half on the breaststroke leg, with the American’s leg coming in at 1:08.14 to Seto’s 1:09.87.
Seto was still quicker than Hagino’s lagging 1:10.23, but the fact that Seto is dropping time in the breaststroke individually bodes well for the now-pro swimmer to take things up a notch during that portion of the IM. Any improvement to Seto’s 400m IM takes him into the conversation for an upgrade on his Olympic bronze when competing in front of his home crowd come Tokyo 2020.