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For Japan’s Yamaguchi, swimming too fast is a problem

Akihiro Yamaguchi

Akihiro Yamaguchi of Japan competes in the final of men’s 200-meter breaststroke of the Swimming World Cup in Tokyo,Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. Yamaguchi, 18, who set the world record in September by timing 2 minutes, 7.01 seconds at a national meet in Gifu, central Japan, won the short-course race. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)


Akihiro Yamaguchi’s biggest problem is that he swims too fast.

The 18-year-old Japanese swimmer recently broke the 200m breaststroke world record by more than a quarter of a second – quite a drop. But almost two months after resetting the mark, Yamaguchi is having trouble in his training pool.

And by that we mean there are too many people in the water.

“There has been a sharp rise in the number of people using the pool after I broke the world record,” Yamaguchi told Reuters. “I haven’t been able to find my top speed and my form is still not where it should be. I don’t have that explosiveness.”

Yamaguchi said the sudden jump in numbers is affecting his workouts.

Disruptions aside, Japan’s national coach Norimasa Hirai thinks Yamaguchi is better than four-time Olympic breaststroke champion Kosuke Kitajima was at age 18. Yamaguchi will race against some of the fastest swimmers in the world at the Short-Course World Championships in December, so we’ll get a sense of how accurate the comparison is then.

“This is the dawn of a new age for Japanese swimming,” Hirai said.

Japan won 11 swimming medals in London, the second highest total behind the United States’ 31.