Phelps, Lochte, Hagino, Cseh: A Look At Rio’s Potential 200 IM Final

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.

2015-2016 LCM Men 200 IM

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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

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tea rex
8 years ago

200 IM will be a total repeat of 2004 Athens.
1. Phelps
2. Lochte
3. Bovell (he will be at the meet!)
4. Cseh
5. Pereira

Unlikely, but if it happens, oh man my pick’em bracket is gonna score!

Tom from Chicago
8 years ago

Phelps is on his way down and Hagino is on his way up. Phelps may not win any individual golds in Rio. And he still has to qualify. Anything can happen in an Olympic year,

1) Hagino
2) Phelps
3) Lochte
4) Csech
5) Pereira

Reply to  Tom from Chicago
8 years ago

You couldn’t be more wrong, Phelps will have the second best Olympics of his career (behind 2008). I thought the same as you before last year’s nationals, and now i think he’ll win at least the 100 Fly and 200 I.M

8 years ago

To save energy for a WR in the final, MP,RL, and KH will have to manage prelims and semis perfectly. And specifically with Lochte, event lineup is crucial. He is too old to go back and IM double in Rio if he wants to win. I think going either both IM’s or 200 IM, 200 free (Kazan) is his best bet to win the 2IM. However his 200 free competition may take care of those options for him. And if in an improbability, Lochte misses all individual berths besides 200 IM, he’ll win it.

MP is a thoroughbred racer, and it won’t matter if he races 4 individuals or just 1. He’s got a very large gas tank and exhausted… Read more »

Sean S
8 years ago

I’m hopeful that Lochte can prove me wrong but I don’t think he can stick with Phelps, and maybe not even Hagino, in this race anymore. Particularly if he is still trying to do the insane double with the 2 back, although maybe Clary will take that option out of his hands. I think Phelps will be just under the world record with one of the Hagino/Lochte pairing sneaking under 1:55 for silver. I’m also pretty sure Cseh is done swimming anything other than fly based on comments he made last summer.

8 years ago

“Phelps should give up 200 fly, he won’t be competitive anymore”

You make your predictions Carlo. And I’ll make mine.

8 years ago

Hagino missed last wall so breast was slower

8 years ago

PVDH nobody is going under 1:54. Not after swimming 3 rounds.

Reply to  carlo
8 years ago

Again, I totally agree with you.
I’d like to have what everyone (who are predicting 1:53s) is ingesting!

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  OntarioSwimming
8 years ago

MP was actually ahead of WR pace last summer in San Antonio. He dropped off in his free leg and STILL did a 1:54.75, It is definitely within the realm of possibility for MP to crack the 1:54 barrier since he is training with a vengeance & a new attitude.

8 years ago

Phelps 1:53.75
Lochte 1:54.10
Hagino 1:54.95

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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