“I would like to thank my family, friends, coaches, and my affiliation Bridgestone and sponsor Nike for their continued support for my swimming life from 6 months to 27 years, good and bad. Swimming is not the only thing to get better at. I would like to continue to take on challenges by making use of what sports have taught me in my future life.”
A multi-World Championships medalist, national champion, Pan Pacific Championships medalist and Asian Games medalist, Hagino’s career highlight came when he took the men’s 400m IM Olympic gold medal in Rio 5 years ago while also claiming silver in the 200m IM event at those 2016 Games.
Hagino has been on the elite international swimming scene since 2011 when he wreaked havoc on the World Junior Championships, grabbing 5 medals in Lima, Peru, including 200m IM gold. He followed that up with 400m IM bronze at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
In 2013, Hagino claimed 400m free and 200m IM silver at the 2013 World Championships before taking IM double gold at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships. The man captured World Championships silver in the 200m IM in 2017 before having a rocky 2018/2019 stretch.
Physical and mental burnout culminated with Hagino’s decision to forego the Japanese national team training camp in Spain in the spring of 2019, an important tollgate heading into that year’s Japan Swim and Japan Open. Hagino ultimately opted out of both those competitions, forfeiting any chance of qualifying for the 2019 FINA World Aquatic Championships.
On a personal level, Hagino got married and welcomed his first child into the world in late 2019, which contributed to his entering 2020 with renewed vigor.
Despite opting out of defending his 400m IM title and not medaling in the 200m IM in Tokyo at this year’s Olympic Games, Hagino cried happy tears that his career had been so successful and he again regained his love of swimming.
He and teammate Daiya Seto were the Japanese equivalent of Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte in terms of IM prowess, dominance and competitiveness domestically for a number of years.
“Chasing him all this time made me who I am today,” Hagino has said of Seto. “For me, he was a huge presence.”
“It’s sad, but I’ll keep trying as I still have a lot of challenges ahead of me and win a gold medal (at the Olympics) as he did. Thank you for the best memories.”
Hagino still owns the Japanese long course national records in the men’s 400m free (3:43.90 from 2014), as well as the 200mIM (1:55.07 from 2016) and 400m IM (4:06.05 from 20166).