Japan’s Ippei Watanabe Rocks New 200 Breast World Record In Sub-2:07

While competing at the 2017 Kosuke Kitajima Cup, 19-year-old Japanese swimmer Ippei Watanabe cranked out a shiny new World Record in the men’s long course meters 200 breaststroke. Firing off a monster 2:06.67 at the Tatsumi International Swim Centre tonight on Tokyo, Watanabe became the first man ever to score a sub-2:07 200 breast, easily overtaking the previous world record mark by .34 seconds.

The elusive 200 breast World Record was previously held by countryman Akihiro Yamaguchi with the 2:07.01 he set in 2012. Although Yamaguchi has been silent ever since, Watanabe has quietly and steadily been on the rise, having broken the World Junior Record in this event back in May 2015. Although it’s since been overtaken by Russia’s Anton Chupkov, Watanabe’s junior mark of 2:09.75 from just less than 2 years ago gives an eye-opening view of this young man’s progression in the event.

Split Comparison

Yamaguchi – 1:01.72/1:05.29 = 2:07.01
Watanabe – 1:01.33/1:05.34 = 2:06.67

Watanabe made a run at an Olympic gold medal in the 200 breast, heading into the Rio final with a newly-minted Olympic Record of 2:07.22 in the semi-finals. Unable to replicate that caliber of performance, the teen ultimately finished in 6th place overall in a slower 2:07.87.

Posted by Kosuke Kitajima Official Site on Saturday, January 28, 2017

However, with tonight’s performance, Watanabe may have just foreshadowed a thrilling breaststroke performance that may be in store come the 2020 Olympic Games when the then-23-year-old may be performing in front of a home crowd.

Men’s 200 Breaststroke – All-time

  1. Ippei Watanabe, JPN (2017) – 2:06.67
  2. Akihiro Yamaguchi, JPN (2012) – 2:07.01
  3. Josh Prenot, USA (2016) – 2:07.17
  4. Daniel Gyurta, HUN (2013) – 2:07.23
  5. Ross Murdoch, GBR (2014) – 2:07.30


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7 years ago

He swam a perfect pace. He was speeding up the last 25. He swam it like Josh Prenot.

7 years ago

Amazing swim! Not only under 2:07, but under by 0.33 seconds. Hopefully he can produce a similar or better swim at Budapest. Prenot could have more room to grow, maybe he’ll get under 2:07 as well.

7 years ago

The Japanese men have always had good technique in all strokes but they,ve always had deficiencies in physique. The Japanese women have always been behind their men since like forever except relatively recently in breaststroke.

Now add good technique to an advantageous physique and you have some fast swims.

Ippei Watanabe is 6,4. Very unusual for a Japanese swimmer. It seems the Japanese male swimmers are getting taller or maybe the Japanese are handpicking taller males as their female swimmers remain short. An example their premier female sprinter rikako ikee is 5,6./5,7. At that height it will be difficult to complete with her age mate, penny oleksiak. Ikee and oleksiak basically swimming the same events. 100 and 200 freestyle… Read more »

7 years ago

Finally! Someone under 2:07!! Seems like its taken ages 🙂 Congrats Ippei!

7 years ago

Finally. Though the similarities to Yamaguchi are…eerie.

Reply to  Penguin
7 years ago

Except that Watanabe has already proven that he can compete at an international level (Olympic record holder), whereas Yamaguchi was relatively unheard of at the time.

Dan Smith
7 years ago

Congratulations! And, yes, video please! Full splits!

7 years ago

Kind of similar to when Yamaguchi broke the WR shortly after London. I think these Japanese pools are a bit short

Eric Nation
7 years ago

Thank goodness, I was tired of that WR, it’s been hanging on by a thread for the past 3+ years. Congrats to Watanabe!

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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