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Top>HAKUMON Chuo [2012 Summer Issue]>[London Olympics Feature: Commemorating participation and celebrating medals] Through diligent effort, bursting onto the scene at the Olympics


[London Olympics Feature: Commemorating participation and celebrating medals]

Page from the Chuo University newspaper

Through diligent effort, bursting onto the scene at the Olympics
-Swimmer Chiaki Ishibashi competes in the London Olympics-

Chiaki Ishibashi
Member of the Chuo University Swim Team
3rd year student in the Faculty of Policy Studies (graduate of Higashi Fukuoka High School, Fukuoka Prefecture)

Chiaki Ishibashi (3rd year student in the Faculty of Policy Studies; graduate of Higashi Fukuoka High School, Fukuoka Prefecture) of the Chuo University Swim Team was the first Chuo University student to be selected to represent Japan at the London Olympics. Chiaki broke the Olympic qualifying time in the finals of the men's 200 meter freestyle at the Japan Swimming Championships (April 4th). Based on these results, he was selected as a member of Japan's 800 meter relay team. Even as a junior swimmer, Chiaki has no previous experience in international competition, meaning that his first global competition will be the Olympics. We talked with Chiaki about his sudden success.

Unexpected qualification for the Olympics

"I can't believe it!"-This was Chiaki's reaction the moment that he saw his time displayed on the electric scoreboard. Chiaki swam the 3rd course in a time of 1:48.16. He had broken the qualifying time and would be going to the Olympics. There were cheers from Chuo University officials who were present in Tokyo's Tatsumi International Swimming Center.

Chiaki had made a huge jump from his Japan ranking of 12th in the 200 meter freestyle. He showed outstanding progress by cutting his personal best time by nearly 1.5 seconds.

In most cases, athletes with experience in international completion gradually improve their time and finally qualify for the Olympics. This was the background to Chiaki's surprise of "Am I really going to the Olympics?!"

"The Olympics has always been the ultimate goal of my training," said Chiaki after he had calmed down. "I am overcome with emotion." Although he must have been tired after the competition, Chiaki was so excited that he felt no fatigue that night. By the time he was finished replying to countless congratulatory emails, it was past 11pm. "By that time, I finally began to feel tired," he says. Of course, the Olympics are exciting enough to dispel any fatigue.

Beating big swimmers

The Olympic 800 meter relay team has four members. Although the other three members have an average height of 184 centimeters, Chiaki is only 168 centimeters. He has been small ever since he was a child. "I have always thought about how I can beat bigger swimmers," says Chiaki.

"I dislike myself when I don't put forth maximum effort."-These words are published in the Chuo University Swimming Team guidebook as the motto of Chiaki. Every day, he practices just a little bit longer than other people. Chiaki pays particular attention to cooling down and relaxing after hard practices. To cool down, he swims about 800 to 1,000 meters at a slow pace.

According to Coach Toru Moriya of the swim team, the practice time at top-level universities is enormous. Athletes swim about 60 to 80 thousand meters per week. Almost every week, swimmers spend a total of about 30 hours training in the water. (Details available of Chuo University homepage.)

After such long and hard training, swimmers want to get out of the pool and go home as soon as possible. "However," say Chiaki, "I know that it will affect my next training session if I don't do a proper cool down."

Chiaki constantly struggles to overcome physical limitations through willpower.

Effort that surprises even his parents

Chiaki began participating in a swimming club when he was in nursery school, following in the footsteps of his brother who is 4 years older. Chiaki advanced to the competitive swimming course when he was in the 2nd grade of elementary school. However, he says that he swam slowly compared to other children.

"I also expected him to quit, but he just kept on swimming," recalls Chiaki's mother, who worked fulltime while raising him. "I wasn't able to pick him up or drop him off at lessons, so he took the bus to the pool. He would tell the teacher at his after-school program that he had to go swim at the pool. Once he had made up his mind, he was the type of child to keep trying, little by little."

When he was in high school, Chiaki would stretch for about 30 minutes every night after dinner.

"It really surprised me that he kept on swimming," says his mother.

After entering Chuo University, Chiaki began to work out and achieved a well-built physique. "He may be a little short, but his technique is outstanding when compared to other swimmers," says Coach Moriya.

Chiaki's effort embodies the Japanese proverb of suppleness overcomes strength. His constant experimentation and effort has produced great results.

Likes his name Chiaki

Chiaki was given his name by his grandfather. The Chinese character pronounced "chi" contains the meaning of "strength that is a match for a thousand people." "My grandfather gave me this name to encourage me to strive for improvement and to strengthen myself so that I wouldn't lose to others," says Chiaki. "I like my name."

Chiaki has a serious and diligent personality. He gratefully accepts his coach's advice and always tries to utilize it the next time that he swims.

"He concentrates on the moment, on his immediate situation," says Coach Moriya. "If he practices hard at Chuo University and gives his best performance, I'm sure he will achieve victory. Even if he has no international experience, I hope he will take advantage of his freshness and swim as hard as he can."

Spirit of Chuo University at the Olympics

Swimming is a personal sport. Win or lose, everything is individual responsibility. This makes it easy to feel uneasy before competition.

Chuo University places great importance on the concept of member care mind. This concept emphasizes team strength and seeks to share responsibility between both the team and individual. Thanks to this concept, Chiaki has grown into an Olympic athlete in the 3 years since he entered Chuo University.

The name of the Chuo University Swim Team is Marauder. Now, one marauder has entered the Japanese relay team and is seeking an Olympic medal.

Chiaki has already achieved his resolution for this season: Be selected for the Olympics and swim a race that will thrill spectators.

In order to achieve his next goal, Chiaki will compete in London while supported by his teammates, coach and family. His first race takes place on July 28th, the next day of the Olympic opening ceremony.

(Student Reporter: Saki Watanabe, 3rd year student in the Faculty of Law)

Chiaki Ishibashi
Born June 22nd, 1991 in Fukuoka Prefecture. Has competed at a national level since the 2nd grade of junior high school. His role model is the Korean swimmer Park Taehwan (winner of the 400 meter freestyle at last year's World Championship). His favorite foods are curry, hamburger steak and Japanese simmered pork. His family has 4 people, including his parents and older brother (a swimming coach).

●Outstanding record of the Chuo University Swim Team
Won the overall championship at the 2011 Japan Intercollegiate Championships.
Set a record by winning 11 consecutive intercollegiate championships from 1994 to 2004. Chuo University Swimming team was known as one of the Japan's strongest swimming teams.