2021 KOSUKE KITAJIMA CUP
- Friday, January 22nd – Sunday, January 24th
- Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Centre
- LCM (50m)
- SwimSwam Preview
- Initial Entries (in Japanese)
- Day 1 Recap/Day 2 Recap
- Live Stream
Start at 1:07:38
In doing so, the man joins an exclusive club of 2:06-200m breaststrokers, which only includes World Record holder Anton Chupkov, Aussie Matt Wilson, fellow Japanese star Ippei Watanabe, and Dutchman Arno Kamminga.
After the race, Sato said he was surprised by his performance. “Being honest, I didn’t think I could produce a 2:06 this time but I did. I have the feeling I’m improving a lot faster than I ever expected. (Olympic Channel)
“It’s always in the last 50 when I can’t keep up with Chupkov’s time. I have to do a better job of closing out the race from hereon.”
Chupkov’s World Record-setting performance from the 2019 FINA World Championships included a 1:02.22 opener and a back half of 1:03.90. Tonight, Sato’s splits included 1:01.18/1:05.60.
“I’m starting to understand what it takes to be world class”, Sato said. “I’m at 2:06.7 now. I want to break the Japan record at the Japan Open and then the world record at the Olympic trials in April”.
As originally reported:
Japan’s Shoma Sato just became the world’s 4th fastest 200m breaststroker of all-time.
While competing on day 3 of the 2021 Kosuke Kitajima Cup, an annual competition known to render some eye-popping performances, Sato fired off a monster personal best of 2:06.78 to take the men’s 200m breast title.
The outing shaved .24 off of Sato’s previous lifetime best, which sat at the menacing 2:07.02 the teen already threw down this season at last October’s Japan Student Championships. That previous PB rendered Sato already among the best-ever as the 6th fastest performer all-time.
After capturing the top seed this morning in Tokyo with a solid heats swim of 2:08.25, Sato got to work in the final, splitting 1:01.18/1:05.60 to produce the 2:06.78 near-national record-breaking swim. Sato’s performance tonight falls just .11 outside of Ippei Watanabe‘s Japanese standard of 2:06.67, a time that once represented the World Record.
With his menacing 2:06.78, Sato, who just turned 19 last November, now joins an exclusive club of sub-2:07 performers, with the only other members being as follows to comprise the top 5 performers all-time:
- Anton Chupkov (RUS) – 2:06.12, 2019
- Matt Wilson (AUS) – 2:06.67, 2019
- Ippei Watanabe (JPN) – 2:06.67, 2017
- Shoma Sato (JPN) – 2:06.78, 2021
- Arno Kamminga (NED) – 2:06.85, 2020
Sato also overtakes Kamminga, who put up his 2:06.85 just last month, as the top swimmer in the world this season. But what does it tell us about the massive talent in this event that the top 2 swimmers at this point in pre-Olympic time are both 2:06? For extra reading, take a look at our analysis of the men’s 200m breaststroke over the last decade here.
Before that, however, it very well may take a near-World Record to even make it onto the Japanese squad in this event, with Sato, Watanabe, Yasuhiro Koseki and others fighting for the two open Olympic roster spots up for the taking at April’s Japan Swim.