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Japan’s first gold medal in the 400 m individual medley!
Aiming for the Tokyo Olympics armed with fighting spirit!

Daiya Seto

Despite the fact that as a child Daiya Seto was so afraid of water he couldn’t even get it on his face, he began swimming at the age of five of his own volition. “I wanted to start a sport, but soccer practice was only once a week, while I thought it would be fun to be able to go swimming four times a week. I guess my fear of water just cleared up by itself,” says Seto, laughing.

Once Seto began going to swimming class, he soon distinguished himself, and began racking up good results at events. Still, he had a tough rival in a student in the same year as himself: Kosuke Hagino, who would later become a medalist at the 2012 London Olympics. Seeing Hagino always ahead of himself was a shock to Seto. Thanks to this powerful rival, Seto poured himself even further into training. At any rate, Seto has hated losing since he was a child. Seto is prone to thoroughly concentrating on and immersing himself in what he likes. In a school magazine published when Seto was six, while most of the children stated their goal was to be able to swim X number of meters, only Seto had the goal of winning a gold medal. Already holding dreams bigger and clearer than those around him, Seto had, like his namesake, begun to shine like a diamond (“diamond” is often shortened to the initial sound “daiya” in Japanese).

Visiting Kaoru Kamata, President of Waseda University together with Hidenori Tomozoe, Director of the Faculty of Sport Sciences on September 9 to report on his victory at the World Aquatics Championships.

However, in his first chance to pursue this dream in the screening for the 2012 London Olympics, unbelievably Seto failed to make the cut. Even Seto was laid low by the failure not only to score a medal but to even appear in Olympics. Seto spent many days training without his heart in it, but when his hard-training rival Hagino achieved a bronze medal, Seto’s fighting spirit was set alight anew. “If he can do it, than so can I,” thought Seto.

This spring, Seto entered Waseda, a university he had long intended to join. Harnessing the knowledge gained in classes in the School of Sport Sciences in his own training, Seto has actively embraced his studies and his grades are also excellent. Seto spent his days fully engaging both body and mind in preparation for the World Aquatics Championships in July, where he become the first Japanese person to attain a gold medal in the 400 m individual medley. Once afraid of the water as a child, Seto had become one of the world’s top swimmers. “Before the race, the only image I had in my head was of winning it,” says Seto, looking back on the achievement. During the race, Seto aimed for the goal while feeling that the match was progressing just as he had envisioned it. Without getting impatient or flustered, Seto’s head was clear until the end. “I was really glad to be able to swim in the championships and I was really excited, but at the same time I was able to maintain a good sense of tension. I felt that this was the ‘optimum mental condition for an athlete’ that I had learned about in class.”

Needless to say, however, this was not Seto’s ultimate goal. His next target is to achieve a gold medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in three years’ time. Then Seto will aim to be an athlete at the fully mature age of 27 at the Tokyo Olympics.

“While I am happy just that an Olympics will be held in my country while I’m alive, the timing is perfect. That’s why I was convinced that there was no way any place but Tokyo was going to be picked for the Olympics. All I can think about now is a gold medal,” says Seto without hiding his excitement. This confidence and psychological fortitude are the distinguishing traits of Seto. Armed with this tough fighting spirit, Seto’s battle towards the Olympics seven years from now begins.

Seto being congratulated by cheerleaders from the Cheerleading Club after the meeting to report on his victory.

Seto during a match.

Seto showing his playful smile while flashing a “W” sign.


Daiya Seto
First Year, School of Sport Sciences

Originally from Saitama, Daiya Seto graduated from Saitama Sakae High School. His hobby is music appreciation and he often listens to Western music such as Pitbull and EMINEM before matches. He says the key to balancing curricular and extracurricular activities is good communication with one’s instructors.