The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

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An Olympic swimming coach who is both an alumnus and a graduate school student in Waseda University

Mr. Norimasa Hirai

"I was glad to be in the School of Social Sciences. Many people around me had unique personalities," said Mr. Hirai. For instance, "His Excellency Demon Kogure" was in the same year with him. "When 'His Excellency' came to the graduation ceremony in his costume, everyone thought 'Wow?!' When I look back, I can see that everyone in my year worked hard, no matter what they did". So, this spirit of the School of Social Sciences was naturally in Mr. Hirai's heart, too. "This has been my attitude toward anything I do. It's the origin of my policy."

When he was in the third year, his swimming coach told him to support the Olympic swimmers as a coach. Mr. Hirai was thought to have talent as a trainer. But he was depressed, because being a coach of the swimming club meant that he couldn't be a swimmer any more. "I was worried because I thought I might get bored with swimming as soon as I quit being a swimmer," said Mr. Hirai. At the beginning, he just played his part as a coach, but gradually he got more and more absorbed in his job. "As a swimmer, I knew I'd never be as good as the highest level swimmers, but by being their coach, it made me feel like we were in the same world." This is why his job is so interesting to him and that's the reason why he chose to be a coach by profession.

When he started job hunting, he was startled by what a friend said to him. "If you are a man, it's best to choose whatever you want to do as a profession!" This made him turn down an offer from a life assurance company and led him to make up his mind to be a professional coach at the Tokyo Swimming Center. "Even if you're not sure which way to go, it has to be you to make the decision in the end," he says. "So you have to put all kinds of information in your pocket, because there might be a hint hidden in what seems to be nothing to do with your dream." Mr. Hirai said that it is important to lend an ear to any information at any time.

By the way, in April, in order to learn sports management, he entered the Graduate School of Sport Sciences.

Back at the pool, we hear his words as coach: "Be patient! Go your own way!" He smiles at the swimmers, who have started stretching. His words and smiles have been encouraging so many swimmers. Lead on, Mr. Hirai.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Mr. Norimasa Hirai

Born in 1963 in Tokyo. After graduating from Waseda High School, he entered the School of Social Sciences in 1982, and joined the swimming club. Worked for the Tokyo Swimming Center after graduating in 1986. Coach of the gold medalist Kosuke Kitajima and the bronze medalist Reiko Nakamura in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. Currently teaching at Tokyo Swimming Center. He will be the head coach of the strengthened Olympic team next year. Currently a 1st-year student at the Graduate School of Sport Sciences. His hobbies are listening to music (particularly Latin recently), reading, and searching for good places to eat, for example, ramen noodles. He makes a great point of "enjoying drinking."