Josh Prenot is a swimmer who won silver in the 200-meter breaststroke at his first career Olympic race in 2016. Prenot competed for Cal from 2012-16, during which he was named Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year in 2013, won the 400 IM at the 2016 NCAA Championships and claimed two golds and a silver at the 2015 World University Games. The American record holder in the 200 breaststroke, Prenot is blogging for TeamUSA.org during his journey at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Tokyo, site of the 2020 Olympic Games.
Well, I didn’t have the performances I wanted, but Tokyo was still a blast. Here’s a quick rundown of how the week went for Team USA:
The several days leading up to the meet consisted of a struggle to get adjusted to the eight-hour time change from California, and some good training work in the competition venue. During breaks between workouts some teammates and I managed to do some exploring! We visited the Sensoji temple at Asakusa for some shopping and tourist activities on one of our first days in Tokyo. A few days later we went to the Daikanyama T-site – three buildings connected by bridges, containing a bookstore, record store, coffee shop and lounge (not to mention some really neat architecture). Being able to explore and appreciate so much of the world is one of my favorite things about swimming – the sport has taken me to five continents so far! – so I’m really glad I was able to see at least a little bit of the beautiful city that is Tokyo.
The lounge at Daikanyama T-site
Once the competition got started, the team settled into meet mode. Eating, sleeping, cheering for teammates and swimming is just about all we did for the past four days! The competition was intense, as Australia and Japan gave us a tough battle in the medal table and the points standing. The Japanese swimmers were especially passionate, swimming in front of their home crowd in the 2020 Olympic city. The noisemaker-wielding fans went crazy for the Japanese athletes when they were announced before their races, and the arena got even louder whenever a Japanese swimmer earned a gold medal, making it a pretty fun environment to race in.
The worlds busiest intersection, Shibuya Crossing
Overall, I think Team USA had a solid performance. There were definitely ups and downs, as one would expect since we had our nationals just two weeks ago, but we ended up with over 40 medals – a nice haul. Of special note was the men’s 400 medley relay, the final event of the meet. It was a hard-fought battle between the U.S. and Japan, with Japan leading the entire way by just a few tenths of a second at every turn. With about 5 meters to go, our anchor Nathan Adrian was able to pass the Japanese leader and get his hand on the wall 0.05 seconds ahead of him. It felt fantastic to finish the meet that way and proudly sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” alongside all my teammates who contributed to the team’s victory.
Me and my friend Keita Sunama (R) - we've been competing against each other since 2015
Personally, my meet wasn’t great. I swam the 100 and 200 breaststroke, and I was slower than my times from nationals in Irvine. My goal was to be better than I was at nationals and see how close I could get to the world record. Not being able to accomplish that was frustrating, but that’s how swimming goes sometimes. At the very least, I’ll take information away from this meet that will help me be more consistent in my training and competition for the next year as I built towards the FINA World Championships in July, as well as some great memories with teammates and friends. At the end of the day, Team USA came away with the victory and that’s what matters. A huge thank you goes out to all the coaches and staff members who positively contributed to the team and helped us maintain our swimming dominance.
That’s it from Tokyo until 2020; I hope to be back here competing for Team USA in two years! Thanks to everyone for following and supporting, and go USA!