Japan’s 19-Year-Old Shoma Sato Unleashes 2:07.02 200 Breaststroke

96TH JAPAN STUDENT SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS

The 96th Japan Student Swimming Championships concluded tonight from Tokyo with another breakout performance in the men’s 200m breaststroke by Shoma Sato.

Representing Keio University, 19-year-old Sato ripped a monster 200m breast time of 2:07.02 to not only easily reap gold here, but to check-in among the world’s best-ever in the event.

Entering this meet, Sato’s lifetime best rested at the 2:07.58 the teen put up this past January at the Kosuke Kitajima Cup. Splitting 1:01.41/1:06.17, Sato’s January time laid waste to his previous career-quickest of 2:09.21 from this same Student Swimming Championships in 2019.

Flash forward to tonight and Sato split 1:01.14/1:05.88 to register his 2:07.02 eye-popping swim. That means this kid has dropped over 2 seconds in this event in just 12 months.

Sato’s time here now rockets the teen up into spot #5 on the all-time performers’ list at just 19 years of age with a home Olympic Games on the horizon.

All-Time Top Men’s 200m Breaststroke Performers

#1 2:06.12, Anton Chupkov (RUS) 2019
#2 2:06.67, Ippei Watanabe (JPN) 2017 & Matt Wilson (AUS) 2019
#4 2:07.01, Akihiro Yamaguchi (JPN) 2012
#5 2:07.02, Shoma Sato (JPN) 2020

For perspective, while competing at the Russia Cup this same weekend, Kirill Prigoda posted a time of 2:07.85.

Before the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games due to the coronavirus pandemic, we reported how Sato had devised a specific strategy for tackling the ultra-competitive 200m breast at his nation’s Olympic Trials meet of the Japan Swim.

Sato said his plan is to ‘train myself to swim in the 1:04 range in the back half of the race without rushing the front half.’ With his 1:04 back-half goal in mind, to hit a 2:06, as Sato said, he would need to go out fast enough to pace the field, but not zealously so where he would lose steam on the final stretch.

His swim tonight entered him into the sub-1:06 realm on the back-half, so he’s heading in the right direction from his previous PB outing.

 

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Gheko
9 months ago

Wow!

Troyy
9 months ago

The 200 br is becoming insanely competitive. Chupkov is the only real lock for a medal next year.

Ol' Longhorn
9 months ago

Still amazes me that the U.S. can’t field top-flight male breastrokers for LCM. It may be the one major shortcoming of the SCY mentality of swimming to get an NCAA scholarship and then competing in NCAAs: if you’ve got great underwaters, you’re great because you only have to fake 5 to 7 strokes a lap. The same is true, to a lesser extent, for fly and back, but for those strokes the great SCY guys have figured out how to set a WR in a 100 LCM.

Entgegen
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
9 months ago

Just training-wise, you’re going to be getting less strokes per practice in because of the extra walls. You may take 14 strokes for a 50scy, but maybe 20-22 in a 50lcm.

More opportunities to work on the stroke where as the 200scy breast has turned into a hypoxic race.

ArtVanDeLegh10
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
9 months ago

If the SCY mentality or focus on the SCY season had anything to do with why the USA doesn’t have at least 1 top 5 100/200 breaststroker we’d see the same thing in the other strokes, but we don’t.

I’m not sure why the USA doesn’t have the top breaststrokers right now but we have had them in the past and SCY vs LCM training probably hasn’t changed a ton.

Ol’ Longhorn
Reply to  ArtVanDeLegh10
9 months ago

Not since Hansen.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Ol’ Longhorn
9 months ago

And I’d add, not since a dolphin kick was allowed on the breakout. Once again, extending the underwaters as even more the dominant part of SCY breastroke.

Ikee Fan
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
9 months ago

Totally agree. Really SCY competitions are held in this country only. You cannot use your SCY time to quality any international competition. Then our SCY season is way too long. Sacarstic that Japan is a small country,but there are so many 50 m pools. Swimming is mandatory in PE. You go up on Skytree downtown Tokyo, you will see how many pools are on school properties-all over. Many are 50m pools on the rooftop. LCM competitions are held all year around for any ages.

I just recently noticed many college swimmers are on Tokyo Frog King, one of ISL team. There are not rules about college students receiving money or have sponsors.

They have time standard for each… Read more »

ArtVanDeLegh10
Reply to  Ikee Fan
9 months ago

What college swimmers are on the Tokyo team?

Yinz
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
9 months ago

Josh Matheny handily beat Sato at World Juniors last year at 200BR (missing the world junior record by 0.01s, at age 16). Josh is 17yr old now, but due to covid situation did not swim LCM this summer.

So, let’s see what young Matheny can do after proverbial “Hold my (root) beer” scene.

For one, I fully expect that US will finally have competent 200BR in LCM.

Ghost
9 months ago

Japanese have always done something right with breast stroke! Men and women! Is it their body type? The way they teach the stroke? The way they train it?

Khachaturian
Reply to  Ghost
9 months ago

They strive to be just like the people they look up to.

Aquajosh
Reply to  Khachaturian
9 months ago

It’s just like when Laure Manaudou started breaking records and within just a few years, France had three girls top 10 world ranked in the 400 free because they saw another French girl do it. Between 2004-2012, they had two different 400 free champions and started winning international medals in the 800 free relay. Japanese breaststroke is the byproduct of seeing that it can be done and wanting to do it too. Kitajima led the way, and now they see it as tradition in the same way Australia did the distance frees because of Perkins.

Swammer
Reply to  Ghost
9 months ago

Yes

Dee
Reply to  Ghost
9 months ago

I think it’s culture. I went swimming while in Japan and noticed breaststroke is the ‘default’ stroke for most people when they swim leisurely at pools. Very different to my experiences in Europe.

Yaboi
Reply to  Ghost
9 months ago

Ive heard that one additional factor is the “Asian squat”, which allows your knees, ankles and groin to be more flexible. You can read about it here https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theatlantic.com/amp/article/555716/

Ghost
Reply to  Yaboi
9 months ago

I agree that this is a major reason. They watch tv in this position so body type is key reason.

Yabo
Reply to  Ghost
9 months ago

How is yamaguchi the true world record holder?

Admin
Reply to  Yabo
9 months ago

WJR = World Junior Record.

He has the fastest time ever by an age-eligible swimmer for WJRs (in the year he turned 18), but because it was before FINA ratified WJRs, it wasn’t counted.

Khachaturian
9 months ago

Amazing time

Kitajima Fan
9 months ago

YES! This event is going to be INSANE next summer

PFA
9 months ago

Like I already said I think the Previous WR of 2:06.67 was soft. But also has anyone taken the 200 out under a minute yet?

Last edited 9 months ago by PFA
Ihatemyself
Reply to  PFA
9 months ago

The only person who would be able to do that is Adam Peaty and he doesn’t swim 200m br. If anyone that swims 58s goes out under a minute they are going to die. But maybe in the near future. O think by 2024 maybe.

Will 37
Reply to  Ihatemyself
9 months ago

There are no swimmers on the current radar who can do that. Not even close. Unless we have another Adam Peaty-type guy with Japanese endurance, it just won’t happen. 6 seconds is just too crazy to drop in 4 years in a 200.

Last edited 9 months ago by Will 37
Andy Hardt
9 months ago

The men’s 200 breast seems absolutely ripe for a big swim. It feels like everyone and their grandmother is swimming 2:07 these days. Even with Chupkov’s time last year, the whole all-time top 20 are within 1.5 seconds of that. What other event is like that? I don’t believe it’s normal, so a shake-up must be coming.

I wouldn’t be surprised if someone drops a lot of time in the next couple years, say a 2:04. With so many 2:06/7 guys, there are a lot of possibilities. Could be Chupkov. Could be Sato. Could be someone else. Could be multiple people.

Will 37
Reply to  Andy Hardt
9 months ago

I think our current talents are all good in one aspect and not the other. Chupkov’s front half is too slow. Ippei Watanabe has tremendous endurance like Chupkov, but can’t come home as fast as he wish when he took the race out at 1:01. I thought about Cordes being the guy in 2016, but now I am not so sure lol…. There will be huge swims coming up for sure as these names you mentioned improve their weaknesses. For Sure.

Yabo
Reply to  Will 37
9 months ago

I honestly think chupkov swims the race it should be swam, almost like a 200 free with a roughly 2 second fade between the 100s

PFA
Reply to  Andy Hardt
9 months ago

Dean Farris goes 2:01 in the 2 breast at trials breaks the WR by over 5 seconds.

Will 37
Reply to  PFA
9 months ago

Could be a real possibility. The guy doesn’t even need pull-outs to break the current world record.

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