Japan: Land of the Rising Aquatic Power

Kosuke Kitajima - his last press conference as an Olympic medallist, London 2012 - by Craig Lord

Is it too soon, or even a far-fetched idea, to suggest Japan as a podium country once the World Championships in Barcelona close the curtain in a few weeks? That is to say, could Japan actually rank among the top three medal-winning nations when the next edition of FINA’s showcase event (sans Olympiads) unfolds?

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Is it too soon, or even a far-fetched idea, to suggest Japan as a podium country once the World Championships in Barcelona close the curtain in a few weeks? That is to say, could Japan actually rank among the top three medal-winning nations when the next edition of FINA’s showcase event (sans Olympiads) unfolds?

Comments

Mike in Dallas

The thesis of the article is certainly well researched and has a lot of stats to make the case for the Land of the Rising (Aquatic) Sun being a nation experiencing a real resergence in swimming. Historically, I can only liken it to their importance back in the 1930’s when they had some tremendous freestyle and breast stroke swimmers on display in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, otherwise made infamous by Adolph HItler.

Having said that, the depth of field in any given event makes coping with competition from Russia, the Netherlands, RSA, France, and USA, tough. Sustaining any such resurgence will continue to be a ‘work in progress’ at least until 2016, and probably beyond.

SwimFanFinland

Irony in Japan’s record gathering of the Olympic medals in swimming at the London Olympics was the fact that the Japan Swimming Federation offered 30 million yen (240 000 € or 304 000 $) in prize money to each Japanese swimmer who wins a gold medal at the London Olympics and then no one made it despite the numerous medals.

Kitajima’s excellent success lasted long enough to sow the seeds of the future of swimming in Japan. He’s a good example how the process initially begins. France is also at a very critical point when it comes to the future of swimming in France. I really hope that the sudden Olympic success by French swimmers helps to solidify the position of swimming as one of the sports people like to follow in France. It would be intriguing to see some statistics about the numbers of new kids in French swimming clubs. As for the example of the process on a smaller scale, Lithuania and Ruta Meilutyte are worth mentioning. It’s interesting to follow what Ruta can make for swimming in Lithuania.

It’s also worth pondering, at least in a theoretical sense, how to intensify and help the process of making swimming more popular after the sowing of seeds by the likes of Kitajima and Muffat; especially in populous nations in which the potential of new followers is remarkable. France would have needed the big meeting earlier than it’s now possible, and awarding the FINA’s biggest showcase to Japan begins to be overdue too.

The best option for swimming is if the 2020 Summer Olympics will be awarded to Tokyo.

vespino

Japan has 27 men in the top 100 in this year’s World 200m breaststroke rankings. Likewise it has 24 in the Women’s event.

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