Purely by definition, is Kosuke Hagino currently the best all-round swimmer in the world? If not, then who do you believe matches his ability across all stroke disciplines, underwater speed, and technique? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter by using the handle @swimwords_
Take a look at how the textile lifetime best performances of Hagino compares with some other all-round greats across 200m of each stroke and the medley events (it’s even more interesting when you consider the 100m lifetime best times):
|200m Backstroke||200m Breaststroke||200m Butterfly||200m Medley||400m Medley|
|1.48.71||No known result||2.11.21||1.54.08||1.57.32||
If reading this on mobile phone, turn on side to see full table
Hagino certainly strengthened his case last night in Vichy to close the action at the 10th Open de France. A world class triple crown within 90 minutes in the final opportunity to sharpen his tools ahead of the looming Olympic showdown with the might of Phelps & Lochte in Rio. Perhaps there was a subtle hint of revenge in the performances of Hagino last night; Vichy was the scene of a cycling accident and fractured elbow this time last year, putting an end to his world title bid in Kazan.
His first outing of the evening was the 200m Freestyle where he emerged victorious in 1.47.20, a shade ahead of French heavyweight Jeremy Stravius and Rio bound Jordan Pothain. Sixty minutes later, Hagino showed no signs of fatigue with a dominant 1.57.43 200m Individual Medley victory. Next home was Portuguese stalwart Diogo Carvalho on 2.01.62 and Florida Gator Marcin Cieslak of Poland rounding off the top three in 2.03.04. A shortened swim down and recovery protocol ensued before Hagino won a hard fought 200m Backstroke, touching in 1.59.14. European Champion Radoslaw Kawecki of Poland pushed Hagino all the way to dip under the two-minute barrier in 1.59.9. Puerto Rican Yeziel Morales finished third in 2.03.65, a second off his lifetime best he set at the Pan American Games last year.
There are very few individual athletes with the ability to swim the times of Hagino this evening within a 90-minute period. But, are there any that can deliver with such technical proficiency across all strokes and such dominant underwater speed, in a rumoured 55km training week? Hagino sits atop the world rankings this year in the 200m Individual Medley with a 1.55.07 ahead of recent efforts at US Olympic Trials from Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte. With another current world ranked number one swim in the 400m Individual Medley at 4.08.85, it could be a very successful Olympic outing for Kosuke Hagino.
Another interesting perspective on Hagino and his talented counterpart Daiya Seto is their in-season form. The Japanese swimmers, generally, tend to race closer to their lifetime bests in hard training than many other nations do. This is perhaps due to the different approach taken in their strength & conditioning training. The majority of swim nations tend to focus on strength development through weightlifting training in the traditional sense, supplementing this with core and pelvic control. This leads to more muscular breakdown and thus higher levels of fatigue. The Japanese team on the other hand, place a huge degree of focus on strength through extended range of movement, mimicking the outstretched body positions they execute in the water. This approach leads to a much slighter build, but arguably with a higher degree of functional control. Having less muscle mass means less residual fatigue is accumulated through training. This is often evident in the postures we see throughout the Japanese team; very little lordosis and rounding through the thoracic spine.
There were some other strong performances in Vichy this past Sunday. Particularly the 4.05.37 400m Freestyle victory for Jazz Carlin, after an 8.24.59 800m Freestyle victory and 1.59.44 200m Freestyle, good enough for 4th position. Elsewhere, other highlights included a best ever textile 50m Butterfly from Ukrainian Andriy Govorov (22.69), followed by a 21.93 50m Freestyle victory over a laboured looking Florent Manaudou. Manaudou looks to have lost a degree of smoothness to his sprint freestyle technique in recent months. His victory in London at the recent European Championships was a narrow one and he looked very low in the water; forcing his rhythm & lowering his head creating drag. This is more likely to be down to training induced fatigue but one to keep an eye on.
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