Olympic Breaststroke Legend Kosuke Kitajima

Japan's Back-to-Back Olympic Champion in Both Breaststrokes

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Kosuke Kitajima is one of the greatest breaststrokers of all time. He won back-to-back Olympic gold medals in both the 100 & 200 breaststrokes in Athens & Beijing.

Since retiring, Kosuke created a sports agency, a swim school, and is currently the president of the Tokyo Swimming Association, where he aims to help elevate Japanese swimming and bring more athletes to the international stage.

This interview provides insights into Kosuke’s swimming career and mindset. Kosuke reflects on growing up in Tokyo and being influenced by Japanese swimmers like Akira Hayashi.

He discusses recognizing his talent after winning high school championships and working closely with coach Norimasa Hirai from a young age. Kosuke also touches on rivalries with swimmers like Brendan Hansen that pushed him to higher levels of performance.

Technique is a major talking point, with Kosuke emphasizing streamlining and his favorite breaststroke drill: three kicks and one pull. He compares training styles between Coach Nori and Coach Dave Salo. Kosuke also shares one of his most memorable sets: four broken 200’s (50-100-50) and being able to push 1:00.4’s in training.

Kosuke evaluates current breaststrokers like Adam Peaty and Qin Haiyang and how breaststroke technique has evolved.

Throughout the conversation, Kosuke’s mental preparation and calmness in big moments is highlighted. He wanted the pressure. He knew he thrived under pressure and therefore he intentionally poured it on.

Looking ahead, Kosuke expresses hopes for swimming in Japan and Paris 2024 through his roles promoting sport.

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Time Stamps:

00:00 Hello Kosuke Kitajima! 00:30 Life Before Swimming 01:15 Akira Hayashi 02:20 Recognizing his talent 04:55 Coach Norimasa Hirai 06:30 Training the mind 11:45 Brendan Hansen 14:50 Kosuke's 100 Breast Race Strategy 20:35 Killer Mindset Behind the Blocks 24:20 Most Efficient Breaststroker Ever says Dave Salo 26:30 Streamlining 28:47 Racing bigger guys 30:48 Where are all the Japanese sprinters? 35:20 Adam Peaty 37:20 100 or 200 Breaststroke? 38:20 Differences in training 40:49 Qin Haiyang 42:00 Leon Marchand 200 Breaststroke 43:45 World Record in Olympic Final? 45:30 What's harder? Win once or repeat? 47:00 Did you know you were going to win? 49:30 Favorite Breaststroke Drill & Set 55:00 Japanese Pride 01:00:45 Life After Swimming 01:03:00 International Swimming League 01:05:00 Victory Celebration

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Japan’s greatest swimmer ever! How was it??

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