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


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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1 month ago


1 month ago

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

Ol' Longhorn
1 month 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.

Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 month 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.

Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 month 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
1 month ago

Not since Hansen.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Ol’ Longhorn
1 month 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
1 month 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 state elite… Read more »

Reply to  Ikee Fan
1 month ago

What college swimmers are on the Tokyo team?

Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 month 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.

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 …

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