Anton Chupkov Cracks 200 Breast World Record Apart In 2:06.12 After Overhauling Matt Wilson In Last Lap Fightback

Anton Chupkov
Anton Chupkov stakes in the world record as Matt Wilson contemplates the one he relinquished after just 1 day. Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

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World Swimming Championships (Anton Chupkov, Matthew Wilson, Ippei Watanabe, 2:06.12)


Day 6 Finals (Men’s 200m breaststroke)

If Russian Anton Chupkov is due a bonus for his bionic 2:06.12 world record for gold over four laps breaststroke, he might consider throwing a coin to Matt Wilson, who claimed silver in 2:06.68, just 0.01sec outside the world record the Australian equalled in semis yesterday.

Pace-setter for all but the last 15 metres of the race, Wilson scorched a blazing trail inside world-record pace for three laps of the four before Chupkov, last of the eight finalists at the first and second turns and fifth at the last, stormed home.

The Japanese challenger who had held the world record that Wilson equalled yesterday, Ippei Watanabe, took bronze in 2:06.73.

Only two years has passed since the 2:07 mark was broken. Today, 2:06 was left trembling.

It was Wilson who set the pace for self and the champion who looked like he’d forgotten to race on the way to proving he knew precisely;y what he was up to as the Australian strained the scoreboard by racing inside world record pace for the first three laps – -0.24sec (50m), -0.13 (100m), -0.41 (150m).

At the last turn, the Russian was a second down but had started to motor. The Australian hare was just in the right place when the Russian greyhound broke stroke and began to hunt his quarry with incisive intent. Where Wilson had a 33.41 homecomer in him, Chupkov had a 31.89.

  • 29.73, 1:02.22 (32.49) 1:34.23 (32.01) 2:06.12 (31.89) Chupkov
  • 28.56, 1:00.64 (32.08) 1:33.27 (32.63) 2:06.68 (33.41) Wilson
Anton Chupkov of Russia (top) on his way to a New World Record in the men's 200m Breaststroke Final during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, 26 July 2019.

Photo Courtesy: PATRICK B. KRAEMER

Chupkov, the Olympic bronze medallist at Rio 2016, and Wilson have known a gold and silver before. Four years ago in Singapore at the World Junior Championships, Chupkov claimed gold in the 200m final, his 2:10.19 a meet record, and Wilson the bronze in 2:11.23.

Asked about the senior repeat of a Singapore 1-2, Chupkov smiled and said: “I like this situation, we are growing up together. Since we were juniors, we’ve raced together – and we know each other for a long, long time and I like it.”

Chupkov’s rangey style is natural rather than forced – but the swimmer could not explain what makes him so efficient: “I can’t explain how I swim. It seems to me that I’m not doing something special, even in training and in competition as well. I just swim like I feel and actually I can’t explain it. Probably I was born into breaststroke.”

Chupkov congratulated the Australian on his world record yesterday. Today, not as the Australian’s turn top congratulate the Russian – and pay plaudits to the way the race was swum:

Wilson was asked about his assault on the world record in pursuit of gold. Taking it out hard had been “a way to make the others react to my race plan: sometimes people react poorly to that which gives me the upper-hand.”

Not with one man. “Tonight, Anton just executed his race perfectly. He’s definitely the best back-end 200 breaststroker that has ever been really,” said Wilson.

“The way he swam it is unbelievable, I mean 2:06.1. We got out of the water and the first thing he said to me was, ‘we made history!’ We had three people go 2:06 which is unheard of. There’s definitely consolation in that that I get beat by someone who broke the world record. Leading into Tokyo, it’s a big confidence boost. It’s going to be a fast, fast final in Tokyo so I’m mentally going to prepare for that really.”

Chupkov was the third world record of the day, after pioneering standards from Americans Caeleb Dressel and Regan Smith in semi-finals.


Anton Chupkov – Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

The 2019 200m breaststroke final:

1 Anton Chupkov RUS 2:06.12, WR
2 Matthew Wilson AUS 2:06.68
3 Ippei Watanabe JPN 2:06.73
4 Zac Stubblety-Cook AUS 2:07.36
5 Marco Koch GER 2:07.60
6 Andrew Wilson USA 2:08.10
7 Dmitriy Balandin KAZ 2:08.25
8 Erik Persson SWE 2:08.39

Anton Chupkov said he had “left all my power and all my emotions in the race” in pursuit of his first world record. “I am not able to feel anymore emotions now. All I feel now is I want to go home.”

He intends to take a 2-4 week break after the 4x100m medley brings his Gwangju campaign to a close – and won’t be travelling: “We had so many training camps, so many flights, so many different competitions that first of all I want to spend some time at home with my family.

I miss my family a lot. Then I have a lot of friends and want to meet them again and I want to spend time in Moscow because it’s not so easy to find spare time in summer that I can spend time in my native city.”

Chupkov was delighted to repeat Russia’s feat on Day 6 at the 2017 championships: “We are happy because today we repeated what we did in Budapest when we got three gold medals. of course we wanted to win the fourth one but that’s sport.”

Asked for his thoughts on Tokyo 2020, he said: “I don’t like to speak of the future. Let me leave this day until the very end. Of course I want to swim at the Olympics, of course I will work hard to try to do my best but it’s not time to speak about it now.”

Wilson had a similar mindset, saying: “I mean, we still have a year to think about it. I’ll go back to the drawing board and sit with my coach and set out some goals. Going to the Olympics, the goal is to always get a medal and get the win. I mean if I can put my best race forward when I get there, that’s going to be good enough for me.”

Had a world-titles silver exceeded his expectations: “Yeah 100%. I came in here with the goal of going into the final and doing my best. Doing the world record yesterday was a big shock to me and then going 0.01 over what I went yesterday, which was a flat out effort so I’m very happy with that.”

World Record Progression:

  • 2:06.12, Anton Chupkov, RUS (2019)
  • 2:06.67, Matthew Wilson, AUS (2019)
  • 2:06.67, Ippei Watanabe, JPN (2017)
  • 2:07.01, Akihiro Yamaguchi, JPN (2012)
  • 2:07.28, Daniel Gyurta, HUN (2012)
  • 2:07.31, Christian Sprenger, AUS (2009)
  • 2:07.51, Kosuke Kitajima, JPN (2008)
  • 2:08.50, Brendan Hansen, USA (2006)
  • 2:08.74, Brendan Hansen, USA (2006)
  • 2:09.04, Brendan Hansen, USA (2004)

All-Time Performers:

  1. 2:06.12, Anton Chupkov, RUS (2019)
  2. 2:06.67, Ippei Watanabe, JPN (2017)
  3. 2:06.67, Matthew Wilson, AUS (2019)
  4. 2:07.01, Akihiro Yamaguchi, JPN (2012)
  5. 2:07.17, Josh Prenot, USA (2016)
  6. 2:07.18, Yasuhiro Koseki, JPN (2017)
  7. 2:07.23, Daniel Gyurta, HUN (2013)
  8. 2:07.30, Ross Murdoch, GBR (2014)
  9. 2:07.31, Christian Sprenger, AUS (2009)
  10. 2:07.35, Qin Haiyang, CHN (2017)

Read more about the FINA World Swimming Championships.

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Thomas A. Small
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