Japanese Swimmer Daichi Suzuki To Be Inducted Into International Swimming Hall of Fame Class of 2022 – Updated

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Daichi Suzuki stunned the world when he beat the USA’s David Berkoff at the 1988 Olympic Games in the 100-meter backstroke.

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Daichi Suzuki after he beat David Berkoff in the 100-meter backstroke at the 1988 Seoul Olympics Photo Courtesy: Daichi Suzuki

While Hall of Famer, David Berkoff is widely credited with “inventing” swimming backstroke underwater with a dolphin kick, the origin of the technique is far from clear. The first record of swimming in this manner in competition credits Hall of Famer Jesse Vassallo with being the first. Perhaps independently, Daichi Suzuki of Japan developed the skill and, as a 17-year-old, became the first to swim 25 meters underwater at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.  At about the same time, David Berkoff started experimenting with what became known as “the Berkoff Blastoff” in the USA.

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Daichi Suzuki at the start position for the 100-meter backstroke during the 1988 Seoul Olympics Photo Courtesy: Daichi Suzuki

Fast forward to the preliminaries of the 1988 Olympic Games, Berkoff and Suzuki went head-to-head, with Berkoff staying five more meters underwater on the first lap than his opponent and winning by over a body length in world record time.

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Daichi Suzuki launching into the 100-meter backstroke at the 1988 Seoul Olympics Photo Courtesy: Daichi Suzuki

In the finals, it was a different story.  Berkoff surfaced at 40 meters with a half-body lead over Suzuki.  Suzuki caught up and out-touched Berkoff for the gold medal, in what was considered the major upset of the Games. Suzuki retired immediately after the Seoul Olympics and has continued to be active at nearly all levels of the sport.

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Daichi Suzuki with his gold medal on the podium at the 1988 Olympics Photo Courtesy: Daichi Suzuki

 

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Daichi Suzuki waving to the crowd after receiving his gold medal Photo Courtesy: Daichi Suzuki

More About Daichi Suzuki

Upon retirement, Suzuki became the varsity coach at Juntendo University.  He also sat on the board of Japan’s Anti-Doping Agency, as well as serving on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Athlete Committee.  He eventually was selected as President of the Japan Swimming Federation, and more recently was named to head Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

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Daichi Suzuki at the 1988 Seoul Olympics Photo Courtesy: Daichi Suzuki