LumaLanes Performance of the Week: Ippei Watanabe Setting Up As Favorite For Worlds

Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

This week’s Performance Of The Week, sponsored by LumaLanes, goes to Ippei Watanabe for his dominating performance in the 200 breast at the 2017 Japan Open. Hitting the wall in 2:07.77, Ippei finished more than 2 seconds ahead of fellow countrymen Ryuya Mura and Yasuhiro Koseki and continued to solidify himself as the one to beat this summer at World Championships.

Watanabe is the only man to break 2:07 in the 200 breast, and he did that back in January when he stunned the world with a world record of 2:06.67. While he was about a second outside of that record last week, his splits show the difference was nearly all in the second half of his race:

Watanabe 2017 Japan Open: 28.87/32.55/33.29/33.06 (2:07.77)

Watanabe 2017 WR: 28.95/32.38/32.69/32.65 (2:06.67)

He was nearly identical through the first half of his race relative to his world record swim. He was out a tenth under world record pace through the first 50 (28.87) and just a hair over it at the 100 (1:01.42), but he couldn’t match the closing pair of 32’s that brought him back in 1:05.34 in January. With World Championships still a few months off, Watanabe is likely far from fully rested, and with more training under his belt may be able to be out slightly faster and still hang on to those matching 32’s in the closing 50’s in a few months.  

No one else has broken 2:08 this year in the 200 breaststroke, giving Watanabe a healthy lead in the world rankings so far. While that lead may shrink after U.S. Nationals next month, you can bet that this 19-year-old has his eyes trained on being as fast as possible in the next four years so he can be in a position to win gold in his home country come 2020.

Congratulations Ippei Watanabe on earning Swimming World’s Performance of the Week!

Special Thanks to LumaLanes for sponsoring Swimming World’s Performance of the Week.

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Author: James Sica

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James Sica is the Men and Women's Assistant Coach at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been an assistant coach at CMU in Pittsburgh, PA (2015-2017), a volunteer assistant coach with the Harvard women’s program (2014-2015) and an assistant with the Ithaca College men's program (2012-2014).

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