NIIGATA, Japan, August 17. TODAY at the Japan Inter-High School championships, rising teenager Akihiro Yamaguchi vaulted to the top of a distinguished list of breaststrokers with a 2:07.84 in the 200 breaststroke.
The time makes the 18-year-old the fastest Japanese swimmer in the event, and the first man from Japan under 2:08 this year. It's the third-fastest time posted in 2012, and not surprisingly, is behind the gold and silver medal performances by Daniel Gyurta and Michael Jamieson at the Olympics. The bronze medal time of 2:08.29 was posted by Japan's Ryo Tateishi, and Olympic legend Kosuke Kitajima placed fourth in the Olympics with a 2:08.35.
Yamaguchi's best time before today was 2:09.22, which had been the fourth-fastest swim of 2012 before the Olympics. Kosuke Kitajima had the fastest 200 breast pre-Olympics with his 2:08.00 at the Japanese Olympic Trials. Tateishi was second in the world and at the Trials with a 2:08.17.
Yamaguchi's time, 11th-fastest in history and third-fastest in textile, just missed Kitajima's national record of 2:07.51, which was set in 2008 and had stood as the world record for about a year.
Special thanks to Takahisa Ide for contributing to this report.