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 in 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.
To followers of the international swimming scene, Watanabe has steadily been making a name for himself in this event. He first set the World Junior Record at 2:09.75 in May of 2015 and spearheaded the field into the Rio Olympic final in a new Olympic Record mark of 2:07.22. Although the teen ultimately finished in 6th place overall in a slower 2:07.87 in Rio, there has been marked improvement for the potentially Tokyo 2020-bound superstar.
But to what can Watanabe attribute his World Record-setting time drops? According to his coach at Waseda University, Keisuke Okuno, who also coaches 200m butterfly Olympic silver medalist Masato Sakai, at least part of Watanabe’s success can be credited to his new lower body workout routine.
In an exclusive conversation with SwimSwam, Okuno detailed how Watanabe has been steadily improving his lower body strength and paying more attention to the kicking aspect of his technique. As a result, Watanabe feels he can use his body energy more efficiently now whenever his races, even with his new training regimen still in the development stages.
So what exactly is Watanabe’s new lower body routine? Okuno tells SwimSwam the World Record holder’s body undergoes a series of dryland exercises, which includes jump roping, squat jumps and the use of suspension trainer TRX, all combined with the goal of increasing leg strength. Below are some highlights of Watanabe’s workout:
- Squat and dead lifts with weights (but not too heavy)
- Jump roping for 7 minutes
- Half squat jumps, 30 reps, 2x
- Track jumps, 10 reps, 2x
- TRX single dead lifts and single squats, 10 reps, 2x each
- Bounding 20m
- Knee up running using Tabata protocol
Try incorporating a few of these land-based skills into your next workout and see if it takes your breaststroke finesse to the next level.