Japanese Swimming Sensations Inspire Tokyo 2020 Hopefuls

Japanese Olympic champion and living legend Kosuke Kitajima, joined by other swimming sensations including the up­and­coming 17-year-old star Kosuke Hagino, thrilled a large and lively crowd with a number of impressive performances during Japan Swim 2012. Five national records have been set thus far, with three of them coming from the womens side and the two others from the mens squad. The strong showing by both teams has been providing Japanese youth with a strong sense of Japan's world­class aquatics programme.

High school swimming star Kosuke Hagino ignited the enthusiastic crowd on Monday by setting a Japanese record of 4:00.26 in the 400m individual medley. Afterwards, the powerful all­round swimmer Kitajima produced an Asian record performance of 58:90 in the 100m breaststroke. He will compete at his fourth consecutive Olympic Games to defend his Olympic title.
The women's squad also came through with several exceptional performances. On Tuesday, Yuka Kato set a national record of 57.77 in the women's 100m butterfly, an excellent tune­up prior to the London 2012 Games this summer. Aya Terakawa also set a national record of 59.10 in the women's 100m backstroke on Thursday.
Masato Mizuno, CEO of Tokyo 2020, said: "Our swimmers are motivating young people across the world, not only in Japan, by demonstrating how dedication and perseverance can make dreams come true. The Tokyo 2020 Games will be fuelled by the energy of young people and will celebrate the Olympic Movement's values of friendship, excellence and respect, which represent a way of life in Japan."
Japan Swim 2012 is taking place at the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Centre, a state­of­the­art sport facility in Japan's capital. The venue is the proposed aquatics centre for the swimming, diving, water polo and synchronised swimming events during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Hosting the country's very best swimmers as millions of passionate Japanese sport fans watch nationwide, Japan Swim 2012 consists of 26 competitions and serves as the one and only tournament to decide the slots for the London Games this summer. Anticipation is high as the roster for Japan's London 2012 Games swim team is still up for grabs.
Image of Kosuke Hagino

17-­year-­old star Kosuke Hagino