GIFU, Japan, September 15. AT the Japanese National Sports Festival, rising star Akihiro Yamaguchi collected his first world record. He downed the global standard in the men's 200-meter breaststroke this morning at the meet.
Yamaguchi nearly became the first man under 2:07 in the event with a scorching time of 2:07.01. He went out in 29.16, and posted a 100-meter split of 1:01.72, before coming home in 1:34.78 and 2:07.01. That effort lowered the world record of 2:07.28 set by Daniel Gyurta of Hungary at the 2012 London Olympics. Gyurta split that race 29.19, 1:01.56, 1:34.16, 2:07.28.
Yamaguchi has had a stunning breakout summer, already clocking times of 2:07.84 at the Japanese High School Championships in August, a 2:08.03 at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships also in August and a 2:09.22 at the Japan Open in May. Should he elect to compete in the 100 breast, Cameron van der Burgh's global standard of 58.46 set at the Olympics could also be in trouble. Yamaguchi already has a 59.56 to his credit from the Japanese High School Championships as well.
Yamaguchi has quickly taken over the mantel as the top breaststroker in his country with four-time breaststroke Olympic champion Kosuke Kitajima missing out on the individual podium at the 2012 London Olympics after winning both the 100 and 200 breaststroke events in 2004 and 2008.
“To tell the truth, I targeted to clock 2:06:00s,” Yamaguchi told local reporters after his world record. “I'm really looking forward to the world championships next year. I want to be a swimmer who can succeed [Kosuke] Kitajima, whom I admire a lot. Since I started working under the wing of coach Norimasa Hirai, I became stronger mentally and my body became bigger. I think I can compete against the world in the 200 metres. I also want to compete in the 100 meters. At the moment I started the race, I felt 'I made it'. I felt I was fine during the warm-up, so I had thought I would be able to rewrite my personal best. I'm really happy about it, but I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't cut the 2:07:00.”
“Wow!” has been the standard response from the swimming community as it first learned of Yamaguchi's efforts this morning from Swimming World's Twitter post:
“Wow…just wow.” – Eric Shanteau @shanteau
“WOW! Kosuke who?” – Rowdy Gaines @rowdygaines
“Wow.” – Ricky Berens @rickyberens
“Enormously impressive.” – Andy Jameson @andyjamesonswim
Video highlights package of world record
Kosuke Hagino, who made some noise earlier this week by mentioning that he had considered coming to the United States for college, had a strong day in Gifu as well. He raced to a meet-record time of 1:56.27 to win the men's 200 back. That swim wasn't far off his sixth-ranked time of 1:55.81 posted at the Japanese High School Championships last month.