Michael Phelps is retired. Ryan Lochte is suspended. The world’s best all-around swimmer appears to be Japan’s Kosuke Hagino, who hasn’t been shy in declaring his intentions.
Hagino said his goal is to win several gold medals at the world championships in July and at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, according to Spanish newspaper Marca.
Hagino also said he believed he can break Lochte’s and Phelps’ world records in the 200m and 400m individual medleys, respectively, according to the report, which ran with the headline, “Kosuke Hagino wants to be the Japanese ‘Michael Phelps’ in Tokyo 2020.”
Hagino has proven he can handle a Phelps-like workload at major meets.
He swam seven individual events at the 2013 World Championships with finishes of second, second, fifth, fifth, fifth, sixth and seventh. Hagino was just 18 years old at the time.
In 2014, Hagino swept the individual medleys at the Pan Pacific Championships — beating Phelps in the 200m IM final — and took silver in the both the 200m and 400m freestyles.
Hagino missed the 2015 World Championships after breaking his right elbow falling off his bike in France.
He swam a light schedule, by his standards, at the 2016 Japanese Championships and Rio Olympics, three individual events at each meet. In Rio, he won the 400m individual medley in an Asian record, finished second to Phelps in the 200m IM and was seventh in the 200m free.
Hagino underwent surgery on that right elbow in September but returned for a meet in Spain last week. He won five individual events — both medleys, the 200m and 400m frees and the 100m backstroke.
Though Hagino has shown much promise, he is still a ways off of the Lochte and Phelps records from several years ago.
His personal-best 200m IM is 1:55.07, more than a second slower than Lochte’s world record from 2011.
His personal-best 400m IM is 4:06:05, more than two seconds slower than Phelps’ world record from 2008.
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