2019 FINA WORLD CUP STOP #1 – TOKYO, JAPAN
While America’s Ryan Lochte was making his return to racing after having served a 14-month suspension, 24-year-old Kosuke Hagino was also back in the pool this weekend after his 5-month hiatus.
As we reported, Japanese Olympic champion Hagino opted out of both the Japan Swim in April, as well as the Japan Open in May, forfeiting any chance of qualifying for this year’s World Championships.
When Hagino announced his withdrawal from the Japan Swim, Bridgestone swimmer stated, “I’ve been unable to achieve the results I had hoped for since the 2017 season.
“As the gap between my targets and reality has widened, it has become harder for me to maintain my motivation.”
However, in June, the IM specialist began getting the itch to return to competition and announced his re-commitment to take on Tokyo 2020.
Said the Bridgestone professional swimmer at the time of his re-commitment, “This year I experienced extreme depression.” He continued, “The difference between what I wanted to happen and what my actual results were dampened my motivation.”
“Before and after the Japan Swim I stayed in Germany for about 2 weeks and spent a lot of time soul-searching by visiting various places. During that time, my body improved little by little.”
Hagino chose this first stop of the 2019 FINA World Cup Series in Tokyo to mark his return, having entered in just the 200m IM and 20m free events. He contested the former on day 2, collecting a respectable bronze in a time of 2:00.03, finishing behind winner Mitch Larkin (1:57.06) and his Aussie teammate Thomas Fraser-Holmes (2:00.00).
For perspective, Lochte’s return swim clocked 1:57.88.
Hagino owns the Japanese National Record in the 200m IM in a time of 1:55.07, a time he clocked back in 2016 prior to the Olympics. After taking silver in the 200m IM and gold in the 400m IM in Rio, Hagino followed up with 200m IM silver at the 2017 World Championships.
He took the Japanese national title in the 200m IM last year in a mark of 1:57.31 and was successful at the Asian Games as well, reaping silver in both the 200m IM and 400m IM in respective efforts of 1:56.75 and 4:10.30.
In 2019, Hagino got off to a sluggish start, producing a 400m IM prelim time of 4:23.66 in February before bowing out of the rest of the Konami Open, opting to take the aforementioned break to tend to both mental and physical health.