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 tonight on 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.
The elusive 200 breast World Record was previously held by countryman Akihiro Yamaguchi with the 2:07.01 he set in 2012. Although Yamaguchi has been silent ever since, Watanabe has quietly and steadily been on the rise, having broken the World Junior Record in this event back in May 2015. Although it’s since been overtaken by Russia’s Anton Chupkov, Watanabe’s junior mark of 2:09.75 from just less than 2 years ago gives an eye-opening view of this young man’s progression in the event.
Yamaguchi – 1:01.72/1:05.29 = 2:07.01
Watanabe – 1:01.33/1:05.34 = 2:06.67 (28.95/ 32.38/ 32.69/ 32.65)
Watanabe made a run at an Olympic gold medal in the 200 breast, heading into the Rio final with a newly-minted Olympic Record of 2:07.22 in the semi-finals. Unable to replicate that caliber of performance, the teen ultimately finished in 6th place overall in a slower 2:07.87.
However, with tonight’s performance, Watanabe may have just foreshadowed a thrilling breaststroke performance that may be in store come the 2020 Olympic Games when the then-23-year-old may be performing in front of a home crowd.
Men’s 200 Breaststroke – All-time
- Ippei Watanabe, JPN (2017) – 2:06.67
- Akihiro Yamaguchi, JPN (2012) – 2:07.01
- Josh Prenot, USA (2016) – 2:07.17
- Daniel Gyurta, HUN (2013) – 2:07.23
- Ross Murdoch, GBR (2014) – 2:07.30
Video courtesy of Alex Pussieldi/YouTube.