How Japan Changed Swimming Forever | The Olympics On The Record

How Japan Changed Swimming Forever | The Olympics On The Record

In the early years
of the 20th century, the United States owned
Olympic swimming. Every Summer Games, the best Americans proved
way too strong for their international rivals. Stars like Duke Kahanamoku and
Tarzan actor Johnny Weissmuller were famous around the world. How could a smaller nation, without the tradition and the
resources of the USA, hope to compete against this
sporting superpower? That was the question facing
the Japanese in the early 1920s. Japan did not even enter a team
for the swimming events at the Summer Games in Antwerp. There were just two swimming
pools in the whole of Japan. And then…a little miracle. At the 1928 Olympic Games
in Amsterdam, a Japanese railway
worker called Yoshiyuki Tsuruta won the 200-metre breaststroke
event. It was only the second Olympic
gold medal in Japanese history and it had
a quite extraordinary effect on the sport’s popularity
back home. They remained way behind the
United States, but it was a start. And the Japanese were working
on some new ideas. They had been watching the
Americans and the way they achieved
success. They watched and they learned. They thought, “These guys are
good, but we can do better.” They started using underwater
photography to see just what was going on
beneath the surface. They were sports-science
pioneers and what they discovered would
change the way people swam. Technically, the accepted
convention was for the swimmer to be
square-shouldered, to remain sturdy in the water with
as little roll as possible. But the Japanese were not
convinced. They tested other methods and found small but significant
improvements. Japanese swimmers were taught
to roll their shoulders more, to increase the length
of their arm movement, and to put more emphasis
on their kicking – freestyle, breaststroke,
backstroke. They revised it, they tested
it, they coached it. All of Japan started to get
excited about the next Olympic Games
in Los Angeles. As the Japanese team set sail
from Tokyo in 1932, there were 200,000 fans
there to wave them off. In LA, the first final
was the 100m freestyle. Gold for Yasuji Miyazaki. Silver for Tatsugo Kawaishi. USA in bronze. The relay would tell the world
a great deal about the quality
of Japanese swimming. The Japanese four were out
of the pool before the USA had even
finished the race. The next day, the USA finally
secured gold in the 400m freestyle. One last desperate surge by
Buster Crabbe of the US, and he just beats off Taris and
sets a new Olympic record of 4 minutes, 48 and
four-tenths seconds. Then Japan dominated
the 100m backstroke – gold, silver AND bronze. The eyes of the crowd are on
the American flash, Adolph Kiefer,
18-year-old Chicago boy and the world’s fastest dorsal
swimmer, who puts Japan’s aquatic
supremacy to a crucial test, who swept everything
before them in 1932. The final day
of the Olympic Gala saw another Japanese one-two
in the 200m breaststroke followed by gold and silver
again in the 1,500m freestyle. In four years, the Japanese had
successfully turned the Olympic results table
on its head. Eventually,
the rest of the world caught up with the Japanese. They learned to race the proper
way, the Japanese way. A comfortable win for
Australia. Second place – Ford Konno,
America. And third – Nikitin, Russia. As that great swim coach
Salvador Dali once said, “Only fools don’t copy.”

Daniel Ostrander

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89 thoughts on “How Japan Changed Swimming Forever | The Olympics On The Record

  1. Cassiano Correia #SINIXTRO says:

    Segue o único penta 🇧🇷🇧🇷

  2. [EnVy] St0Rmz says:


  3. Christopher Lavoie élève says:


  4. Valmon Dias Ferreira says:

    Essa foi incrível!

  5. Spiros Diochnos says:

    I love that they didn't cut the Olympic solute

  6. Sally Vee says:

    Those leotard swimming suits looked pretty cool. Better than the modern full-bodied ones that artificially lower swimming times.

  7. Estados Unidos Mexicanos says:

    I love Japan

  8. Will Pack says:

    I don't know what is real anymore lol

  9. Shor says:

    extra – ordinary

  10. Joyce Ball says:


  11. Daniella says:

    Thats how i always swam

  12. Eva B. says:

    Not how you pronounce "extraordinary" lol.

  13. Sarthak Bhalerao says:

    well as a matter of fact, USA still dominates the swimming event, they have never finished 4th in any of the relays, winning gold in every 4×100 medley, and getting silver or bronze in freestyle relas only 5 or 6 times……. when it comes to swimming USA is far far ahead, only michael phelps has enough medals to be a country in olympics and still ranking under 50

  14. Be Happy says:

    1:50 ooh My the swimmer.. < 3

  15. Simon says:

    Thank you Youtube for recommending this video to me. I was watching tigers having babies and now I am watching how Japan changed swimming.

  16. Yusof Sarangani says:

    the reenactment of japanese sport scientist was gold.

  17. Emir Emryss says:

    Wow…then 1945 they invade my country and kills thousand of innocents people.

  18. Yuusha-sama says:

    I didn't know men also wore one-piece swimsuits

  19. subha tani says:

    I love British accent

  20. Sam A3 says:

    Well deserved. Studious improvement.

  21. Kuro Neko says:

    OMG, that Japanese ingenuity! Such smart, innovative people. Wonderful history that few knew about, especially Americans. The media here wants everyone to think the US is best in everything and has always dominated – NOT true! Japan is awesome in the summer and winter Olympics now!

  22. FullOilBarrel says:

    At 2:33 look at that massive freaking bellyflop

  23. juan karlos says:

    Japanese innovates everything…

  24. valcarajo says:

    They changed it by the creation of “Free! Iwatobi Swim Club”

  25. Saurabh Saxena says:

    I love every country that defeats these drug cheats Europeans and Americans.

  26. Steven Zechmeister says:

    Don't forget about drugs, we use lots of them, all kinds and often. Oh yeah you might beat us once but we got bucket loads of drugs to beat you back.

  27. Mauner Lacayo says:

    The moral of the story is if you are good at something remember there will always be an Asian who can do it better

  28. Shimizu Ren says:

    They not just copy, the perfected it.

  29. Goga Giorgi says:

    tradition of USA 😂

  30. allgoo19 says:

    You could say this was the dawn of sports science.

    Yes, the strength of individuals counts but the technique is just as important.

    Japanese took advantage of being the first but the rest of the world soon followed and caught Japan.

  31. goosecouple says:

    Japanese is about optimization.

  32. Crazy Net says:

    Also, the quick in Volleyball is from Japan in order for them to beat the tall oponents

  33. Jeffrey Icaro says:

    tora tora tora,, banzaiiiiii

  34. Ludwig XIV says:

    Roses are red, violets are blue, there's always an asian who's better then you!

  35. Pt S says:

    Then like 15 years later they bombed perl harbor. So awkward. Just saying.

  36. Edgar M says:

    I could beat this guys, they are probably like 100 years old

  37. Egg Person says:

    Sorry about nuking y’all Japan

  38. Miley Granberg says:

    Omg 1:01 the one guy looks like Casey neistat

  39. Tijan says:

    Was that some kind of fascist salute there? The timing of this one is awkward

  40. Stir It Up says:

    If you can’t beat ‘em, bomb Pearl Harbor.

  41. Ken Gonzales says:

    TIL they didn't wear goggles back then. 😲

  42. Damien McCue says:

    2:32 belly flopping in the Olympics

  43. auzio says:

    Great documentary but you could have left out the Dali ending.

  44. 12 inches unbuffed says:

    1:00 freemaons hand shake all sport is fixed.

  45. Renzel Buena says:

    so cool

  46. biancagoyenechea says:

    science, a ba zu re!

  47. Albertus Chambugong says:

    Jupan ur awesome 😍💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕

  48. sydney mai says:

    los angelees

  49. Cody Scollay says:

    It would be so much fun to go back in time and just dominate with all the things we know today and all the items we have available to us today.

  50. Morteza Shafiei says:

    I almost buy Salvador dali as swim coach.. LoL internet…

  51. dewesh kumar paliwal says:

    Many many thanks for providing this vidio & informations. Ancient or old records are always. Motivating to proceed ahead with confidence❤️🇭🇺🇭🇺🇭🇺💛🇭🇺🇭🇺🇭🇺💙🇭🇺🇭🇺🇭🇺💚🇭🇺🇭🇺🇭🇺😀😆😄

  52. William Holloway says:

    Well done for 3 million

  53. Michael Lyga says:


  54. dosdadio siapa says:

    Sports is science! If you do your technique scientifically you have the advantage.

  55. sodrun tiadarisau says:

    nuke hiroshima n nagasaki.. to secure the medals..

    ps: pearl harbour is not US soil, it's just another vasal soil

  56. Sahadeb Barman says:

    I am Indian but I Love Japanese very very much because Japanese love his country very much I💟Japanese very much

  57. Abhishek reddy k says:

    Wow Japan

  58. john hand says:


  59. Big Marbel says:

    I literally had an ad about « swimming » for some reasons…

  60. Poseidon99Jeus says:

    If penguins and sardines can swim at a fast pace, why not Japanese!

  61. Jodie Noriega says:

    No, I’m Asian but still better than Japan. Filipinos

  62. Jay Li says:

    All these people in the video would have died

  63. Tomas Munoz says:

    That's all changed now.

  64. misscritique66 says:

    I am not convinced, I mean if they Japanese were that godd back then, Where are they now

  65. sgt.peppers lonely hearts club band says:

    And they never won again

  66. Tim Miller says:

    Sorry Michael Phelps. Here come some Asians that also cannot get close

  67. BladeMaster - Gamer says:

    I love swimmimg!

  68. Mert Sahin says:

    "There is always an Asian better than you"

  69. Archie Webb says:

    2:13 me when I find 5 dollars on the ground

  70. Datchineseguy says:

    Lmao ‘great swim coach Salvador Dali’

  71. Papa Joules says:


  72. Jordan Morgan says:

    Is it sad that I live in the USA but was cheering for Japan this whole video😂

  73. bleach says:

    2:53 excuse me what

  74. James Mason says:

    They might add that the surge of Americans to the top was lead by Hawaii Swim Club and coach Sakamoto. The swimmers were primarily of Japanese ancestry.

  75. Da Mao says:

    I am looking fwd to the feature piece on Japanese toilets in the Olympic Village in the upcoming 2020 Olympics.

  76. Almeyra Negara says:

    Is it weird that I got chills towards the end

  77. f Forecast says:

    I wonder how this affected American public sentiment towards Japan, especially with WWII around the corner

  78. sanji-kun says:

    los angelees

  79. Alyssa Hernandez says:

    What can i say you learn from the best 🇺🇸

  80. Patrick Horn says:

    I would be interested in the history of the flip turn. I see videos in the 1950s showing some using it, others not. Wikipedia credits Al Vande Weghe in the 30s. I can’t find any footage of him demonstrating the new technique and who were the first adopt it. This is probably as important as the Fosbury flop is to the high jump.

  81. Kath Ev says:

    Oh.. they were researching swimming style for olympic.. i thought those scientists were doing live action swimming club anime… I could've sworn they were playing deja vu – initial d song…

  82. Mangala ji says:

    I really appreciate Japan.
    It is technologically advance
    Yet is disciplined nation
    And also maintained tradition..
    Wow……such a hard-working and polite nation…🌸🌸
    Love from India

  83. Rolando Jr. Antonio says:

    Wow, Congratulations to the Japanese Swimming champions and their coaches! Its a sad thing that their secrets were revealed and copies by their competitors. But at least, they have proved that they can beat the Americans in a very unique way.

  84. Newman Newmanz says:

    BLACK LEFTISTS will blame on RACISM if they can't WIN, ASIANS just think different to win.

  85. Eric C says:

    3:33 is that Eugene Lee Yang from the Try Guys?

  86. Glywnnis Wells says:


  87. Glywnnis Wells says:

    The japanese also had a go at marathon and 10k always innovating until others figure out their ways.Then physical attributes take over.

  88. Bright light says:

    The last guy on the last lane down the screen is not a swimmer how do u dive that way…..wahaaaàt

  89. Boris Bornakiss says:

    Daiya Seto gold medalist 100IM and 400IM world swimming championships 2019

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