While competing on the sixth day’s finals session of the Japanese Olympic Trials meet, the 21-year-old multi-event powerhouse that is Kosuke Hagino proved once again that he is the single most threatening swimmer to the worldwide field in the men’s 200m IM. A field that could include America’s Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, should they be the studs to qualify out of the U.S. Olympic Trials slated for late June.
After already scorching world-leading times of 4:08.90 in the 400m IM and 1:45.50 in the 200 freestyle, Hagino perhaps saved his best individual race for last, racking up an incredible 200m IM mark of 1:55.07. Not only does that time and gold medal win earn him an Olympic roster berth for the event, but his outing was swift enough to lower his own National Record.
Today marks the 2nd time in the past year that Hagino has lowered his own record of 1:55.38 he originally set competing at the Asian Championships in 2014. Last year at the Japanese Intercollegiate Championships, he narrowly notched a new record of 1:55.33 before dropping it down even further with tonight’s 1:55.07 performance.
Already ranked as the fastest in the world this year via his semi swim of 1:55.98, Hagino’s statement-making performance tonight now positions him as the 3rd-fastest performer of all time, surpassing Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh to sit only behind mega stars Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps of the United States.
All-Time Performers in Men’s 200 IM
Ryan Lochte, USA, 1:54.00 (2011)
Michael Phelps, USA, 1:54.16 (2011)
Kosuke Hagino, JPN, 1:55.07 (2016)
Laszlo Cseh, HUN, 1:55.33 (2009)
Eric Shanteau, USA, 1:55.36 (2009)
That begs for us to take a look at what a Rio Olympic final may look like, with the top 4 all-time performers still very much in play. Both Lochte and Phelps have an extremely likely, even probability, of making the U.S. Olympic team in the event, given that they hold the world’s top 12 performances of all time.
Phelps already made a preliminary move, clocking a swift 1:57.61 at U.S. Winter Nationals to rank as the top time in the world prior to tonight’s final in Tokyo after clocking a huge 1:54.75 at the U.S. Nationals in San Antonio last summer.
Lochte is the 2nd-fastest American so far this season with the 1:58.43 from Austin, but is the reigning world champion, having earned a time of 1:55.81 in Kazan.
Then there’s Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh, who earned a time of 1:59.01 at January’s Euro meet in Luxembourg, a competition at which Cseh was most likely under a heavy training load. Cseh scratched out of the event at the 2015 World Championships, choosing to focus instead on butterfly, but he did log a mighty 1:51.36 in the short course version of the 200 IM event, en route to earning the gold medal, new championship record and new European Record at the 2015 European Short Course Championships. That short course time converts to a 1:54-high/1:55-low, right in line with the aforementioned rivals.
Surprisingly, one competitor we no longer need to consider is Japanese swimmer Daiya Seto, who unexpectedly finished out of the top 2 at the Japanese Trials. As such, he’s off the roster in this event, even though he’s presently ranked 4th-fastest in the world with his time of 1:57.72
Below are the splits for recent best times of the top 4 competitors, giving just a glimpse into how things could potentially shake out in Rio this summer.
Michael Phelps, U.S. Nationals, August 2015
24.65/28.49/33.34/28.27 = 1:54.75
Kosuke Hagino, Japanese Trials, April 2016
24.43/28.43/34.08/28.13 = 1:55.07
Ryan Lochte, World Championships, August 2015
25.10/29.29/33.34/28.08 = 1:55.81
Laszlo Cseh, Euro Meet, January 2016
25.25/29.82/34.99/28.95 = 1:59.01