By Keita Kudo / Yomiuri Shimbun SportswriterGWANGJU, South Korea — Daiya Seto won gold in the men’s 200-meter individual medley at the world swimming championships here on Thursday.
In doing so, the 25-year-old Seto became the first athlete named to the Japanese swimming team for the Tokyo Olympics next year, having met requirement — set up by the Japan Swimming Federation — of winning an individual event. He finished the race in 1 minute 56.14 seconds.
However, the most important event for Seto, who is originally from Saitama Prefecture, is the 400 individual medley.
He won that event at the 2013 and 2015 world championships, and also earned a bronze at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.
For Seto, the 200-meter individual medley was his third-most important event after the 400 individual medley and 200 butterfly.
After his victory in the 200 individual medley, Seto exploded with joy before reporters had even asked him a question, saying, “Yes! I feel great!”
“It’s perfect. It was just the kind of race I had imagined,” he added.
Seto’s strategy was to go out aggressively at the beginning and hang on in the second half. It sounds simple, but his instincts as a competitor kicked in as he observed the earlier races up through the semifinals.
“I had a clear eye on it,” Seto said. “I thought I had a chance because the other swimmers weren’t at their best.”
Seto said he could sense that the others were off, including rival Kalisz Chase, who was born the same year.