Seto Claims Victory To Break United States Stranglehold in 200 IM: Desplanches & Kalisz Round Out Podium (RACE VIDEO)

Daiya Seto - one year out from Tokyo 2020, a home Games, the world title in the treasury - Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

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FINA World Swimming Championships (Daiya Seto)

Gwangju 2019

Day Five Finals (Men’s 200m individual medley)

Daiya Seto broke the United States’ stranglehold on the 200 individual medley as he became the first non-American since 2001 to top the podium and at the same time book a spot on the Japan team for the Tokyo Olympics.

Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Chase Kalisz had shared the four-length event in the eight editions since Italian Massimiliano Rosolino won in Fukuoka, Japan, in 2001.

Jeremy Desplanches of Switzerland celebrates after finishing second in the men's 200m Individual Medley (IM) Final during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, 25 July 2019.

Jeremy Desplanches – Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

Seto won in 1:56.14 with Swiss swimmer Jeremy Desplanches second in 1:56.56 and defending champion Kalisz third in 1:56.78.

Seto, hurtling towards a home Olympic Games in Tokyo next year, was ecstatic and said:

“This 200m was so big for me because I prefer the 400 individual medley. This is a great step-up for the 400IM. I need to concentrate until the last day (for the 400IM) when I want to get my next medal. Now I want to continue (my form) to Tokyo 2020.”

Seto posted splits of 24.89, 54.19 and 1:27.49.

It was Seto’s third gold at world titles but his first at the shorter medley after twice standing atop the podium following success in the 400IM in 2013 and 2015.

That means he ties with Kosuke Kitajima – the Frog King – for the most number of world titles by a Japanese swimmer.

He revealed that he had been prompted to act on his performance after his golds in Barcelona and Kazan were downgraded to bronze in 2017 in Budapest.

Lessons learned and applied have borne fruit.

“Since I lost in 2017, I’ve been trying different things, and little by little those challenges have paid off,” Seto said.

“My condition is really good. I had also been aiming for gold in the 200, since I got here and saw how things were and how well I was swimming, I thought I could swim a personal best.”

He became the first Japanese champion in the 200IM, two years after compatriot Kosuke Hagino took silver in Budapest.

Hagino has not competed in Gwangju and earlier this year laid bare his despondency and disillusionment with the sport despite a home Olympics on the horizon and just a year away and where he had been a gold-medal hope.

It was Desplanches’ first medal at global level and also the first for Switzerland, the 24-year-old again breaking the national record en-route to silver.
“It is! It’s the first one and I have to say it’s amazing, I didn’t expect to be silver. I was hoping for a top five so it’s a very big surprise.
“But then yesterday after the semifinal I was in lane four so I think they knew I was in good shape. The race was very hard and very close so everybody in this final deserved a medal so I guess I had a good race today.”
It was a blanket finish and Desplanches admits he couldn’t wait to touch the wall, saying: “The last 50 meters I just died so I was hoping  that the wall could come to me faster because I couldn’t swim anymore.”
For Kalisz, it was his fifth world medal of his career so far and he said: “I think I swam my best race that I could have possibly swam today, it just wasn’t anywhere near my best.
“It just happens sometimes, it’s what it was today. I think I pulled the most out of what I could have today. Like I said, just have to keep moving on.”