Analysis: Men 100m Breaststroke
Craig Lord
Control, poise, nerve, race plan. Long-term, short-term. When it counts. Supreme confidence. Kosuke Kitajima, defending champion, had it all; the first seven men race under the minute in Olympic waters

Beijing 2008

  • 1. Kitajima (JPN) 58.91 WR
  • 2. Dale Oen (NOR) 59.20 ER
  • 3. Duboscq (FRA) 59.37
  • Fastest field ever: Beijing 2008: 58.91 - 1:00.24

Comparison fields:


  • Melbourne 2007: 59.80 - 1:01.67
  • Athens 2004: 1:00.08 - 1:02.42


Facts going into the race: 

  • World record: 59.13 - Brendan Hansen (USA), Irvine, California, 1.8.06
  • Olympic champion: Kosuke Kitajima (JPN) 1:00.08
  • World champion: Hansen 59.80

Impact of morning finals:

Minimal. With six men under the minute and one of those under 59, breaststroke has also moved up a peg. It is said that the suit is not significant for breaststroke specialists. Tell that to Kitajima - he's the one sporting the big grin and the prospect of becoming the greatest breaststroke swimmer the world has ever known as he chases that double-double. Tell it to any sane soul who considers the all-time top 10 and watch out for the rye smile. It was suggested to me today that this kind of top 10 impact happens every Olympic cycle. No it does not. Not even close.

What it took to qualify for semis:

  • Beijing 2008: 59.41 - 1:00.71
  • Melbourne 2007: 59.96 - 1:01.69
  • Athens 2004: 1:00.03 - 1:02.09

Notes on the race:

Control, poise, nerve, race plan. Long-term, short-term. When it counts. Supreme confidence. Kosuke Kitajima, defending champion, had it all. It was hard to find a single moment in the race when his stroke broke down, and the underwater work coming into the wall, out of the turn and then  into the wall for the touch - as seen on a TV monitor, was a thing of masterful beauty. He turned third in 28.03, with Alex Dale Oen and Brendan Hansen on 27.85 and 27.97. Nothing in it. There was by the end, Kitajima coming home in the inly sub 31sec split of the race - 30.88, 0.47sec better than the Norwegian. Hugues Duboscq's return - 31.03 - was the closest to the champion and will be a threat in the 200m. 

Impact of the race on the all-time top 10: 

  • 58.91 Kitajima, Kosuke JPN BEIJING
  • 59.13 Hansen, Brendan 1981 USA
  • 59.16 Dale Oen, Alexander NOR BEIJING SF (2007: 1:00.34)
  • 59.37 Duboscq, Hugues        FRA BEIJING F (2007: 1:01.08)
  • 59.65 Rickard, Brenton AUS BEIJING SF (2007: 1:00.58)
  • 59.87 Sludnov, Roman RUS BEIJING F (2007: 1:01.50)
  • 59.88 Cook, Chris             GBR
  • 59.96 Van der Burgh, Cameron RSA     BEIJING Prelims (2007: 1:01.12)
  • 1:00.02 Mew, Darren GBR
  • 1:00.06 Lisogor, Oleg UKR

All-time at end-2007

  • 59.13 Hansen, Brendan USA 2006
  • 59.53 Kitajima, Kosuke JPN 2005
  • 59.94 Sludnov, Roman RUS 2001
  • 1:00.02 Mew, Darren GBR 2004
  • 1:00.05 Duboscq, Hugues FRA 2005
  • 1:00.06 Lisogor, Oleg UKR 2005
  • 1:00.21 Moses, Ed USA 2003
  • 1:00.24 Gangloff, Mark USA 2007
  • 1:00.34 Dale Oen, Alexander NOR 2007
  • 1:00.37 Gibson, James GBR 2003


Kosuke Kitajima became the first man to retain the 100m breaststroke crown, his victory making Japan, with three titles, the most successful nation in the history of the event since its introduction in 1968. Alex Dale Oen gave Norway its first ever Olympic medal in a men's event. Hugues Duboscq emulated Australian Peter Evans (1980, 1984) by claiming a second bronze four years after taking his first. The race marked the first final since 1988 not to produce an American medal winner, those two occasions the only non-boycott misses for the USA. The final did not change overall medal count leaders: nine of the 33 medals on offer since 1968 have gone to the USA, while Soviet representatives won five, three of those Russians to go alongside Roman Sloudnov's bronze in 2000. Since Roman Sloudnov (RUS) became the first swimmer to dip below the minute in the 100m, two had followed coming into 2007:  Kitajima and Hansen. Beijing not only witnessed the first sub-minute effort in Olympic history - it produced seven sub-minute men, six of those in the final. Extraordinary progress. The 2000 and 2004 Games are the only two at which the same man has won both 100m and 200m titles: Fioravanti and Kitajima. Kitajima threatens a repeat - that would make him the most decorated breaststroke specialist in history. As the champion said in 2004: Cho-kimochi-ii, or "I feel mega-good", a saying which went on to win the 2004 U-Can Neoligisms and Vogue Words contest. 

Fastest: 58.91 Kitajima, 2008

World Record wins: Nobutaka Taguchi (JPN), 1972; John Hencken (USA), 1976; Steve Lundquist (USA), 1984; Kosuke Kitajima (JPN)

Biggest margin: Taguchi's 1:04.94 victory, the first sub 1:05 swim, gave him the gold by 0.49sec over American Thomas Bruce. 

Closest shave: Adrian Moorhouse (GBR) claimed the 1988 gold in 1:02.04, 0.01sec ahead of Karoly Guttler (HUN). Moorhouse would come to know much about close margins: he set the world record at 1:01.49 in 1989 and equalled it twice in 1990.