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The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

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Striving to be team champions at the Japan Students Fin Swimming Championship, a new field of swimming!

Madoka Numazaki
Hiroaki Unno
Nobuhiro Suzuki

If we had fins like a dolphin, we could swim faster. Fin swimming is what enables you to get one step closer to the realization of this dream. It is a sport that involves swimming using fins. The types involved are bifins to be worn on individual feet and monofins with foot pockets for both of the swimmer's feet. It is an official event of the World Games, which is also called the second Olympics and though it is very popular in Europe, especially in Russia where the sport began, it still remains a minor sport in Japan. As it is difficult to find a pool for practice, only about 30 student organizations exist across Japan. Under such circumstances, the official fin swimming circle of WASEDA University, "SIX BEAT," is a regular prizewinner in contests, as it is favored with a place to practice at the Takaishi Memorial Swimming Pool (Toyama Campus).

A scene of practice at the Takaishi Memorial Swimming Pool. Hiroaki, in the center, wearing a monofin, standing on the starting block

The three members interviewed have been involved in competitive swimming since childhood. Their reasons to start fin swimming, however, are slightly different. "I gave up my career as a racer in third year of high school, but as I wanted to continue swimming and as the cost was lower than diving, I started fin swimming," Madoka Numazaki says. Hiroaki Unno explains, "I do competitive swimming and this sport. In fin swimming, swimming posture is important, so it has a good effect on competitive swimming." Nobuhiro Suzuki, a first year student has a different background and says, "As the number of people actually doing fin swimming is few, I thought I might be able to become a champion." All three of them are holders of new records; full of a fighting spirit for the sport they started after joining university.

The most attractive part of fin swimming is the speed. It is a sport you can swim fastest in water. Nobuhiro says that he cannot forget the sensation he got when he swam for the first time using racing fins. "The sense of speed is completely different from competitive swimming. It feels great as I can feel the water flow." Madoka Numazaki adds with bright eyes, "Once you experience that speed, it becomes addictive." The manner of swimming is quite different from normal swimming races, and if competitive swimming requires power in the arms at 80% and that of the feet at 20%, fin swimming is the other way around and requires 20% arm power and 80% foot power. Even if you are not a fast swimmer in swimming races, you may develop a talent in fin swimming. If you love swimming, it is worth trying it at least once.

"SIX BEAT" has many new record holders, but the atmosphere at practice is very friendly. "Everyone is serous heading toward a meet, but we don't feel any great pressure and really enjoy ourselves by practicing voluntarily," Madoka observes. "We look at each other as teammates to liven up fin swimming together, rather than as rivals." While members can enjoy the sport at their own pace, they also get advice from Yuta Hasegawa, a professional fin swimmer active in international events and a graduate of the team. The best thing about "SIX BEAT" is that it is free and placid enough to accept individual attitudes toward the sport.

"SIX BEAT" is becoming active toward the students championship to be held in the fall. Last year, the team was defeated by a narrow margin and came in second place after Nippon Sport Science University. This year, Hiroaki will take on the challenge of the monofin event for the first time. "Last year, I got a new event record in the men's 1,500 meters bifins category, so I took a break. However, now I have a new target of a new meet record using a monofin, and I'm very excited. The other teammates increased their number of events, committing to the championship as a team!"

If you are anyway interested, please come to the Takaishi Memorial Swimming Pool to take a look*.
Swimming with full impact is waiting for you!

*The regular training schedule of SIX BEAT is between 9:30-10:30 on Monday through Thursday and on Saturdays. To use the Takaishi Memorial Swimming Pool, you must follow the conditions of use set forth by the university.

At last year's student championship. Madoka is center, front row, while Hiroaki is second from right, middle row

Prizewinners of the 400 meters bifins at the Japan Championship 2012. From left: Hiroaki and Nobuhiro; second from right: Madoka

A group photo at this summer's camp

(Offered By:WASEDA WEEKLY)

Madoka Numazaki (left)
(2nd Year, School of Education)

Born in Tokyo. Graduated from WASEDA Jitsugyo High School. 2nd Year, School of Education. She started swimming in kindergarten. She continued to swim races in a club team, but switched to fin swimming upon entering university. In 2011, she had the Japan record in the women's 400 meters bifins event. Her target is to win a medal at the World Cup.

Hiroaki Unno (center)
(2nd Year, School of Education)

Born in Nagano. Graduated from Nagano Yoshida High School. 2nd Year, School of Education. His interest is swimming instructions, playing with children. His dream is "to promote fin swimming by becoming a school teacher in his hometown, Nagano, in the future." He recorded a new meet record in the men's 1,500 meters bifins race. His target is to win the Japan record in a monofin event at next year's Japan Championship.

Nobuhiro Suzuki (right)
(1st Year, School of Social Sciences)

Born in Tokyo. Graduated from WASEDA High School. 1st Year, School of Social Sciences. He took first place in the student championship by winning the meet record in the men's 400 meters bifins race. He devotes himself to practice, targeting wining an overall victory at the student championship, winning a race in an individual category at next year's Japan Championship and becoming a member of Team Japan.