The four-year plan

The first things you notice about Japanese swimmer Daiya Seto are his broad smile and powerful physique. Passionate about his sport, he nods to himself as he shares his thoughts:

“If it helps me win, I'll be bold and try new things to be world number one.”

In 2016, Daiya won bronze in the men’s individual 400m medley in Rio, a great result by most standards but not enough for him. Put simply, he's only after gold.

Despite his disappointment, he was genuinely happy for his friend and rival Kosuke Hagino – who won the event – and celebrated his teammate’s victory. After Rio, though, Daiya quickly switched his focus to preparing a roadmap to Tokyo 2020.

In March, the 22-year-old graduates from Waseda University. “Moving forward from education will give me fresh motivation,” he says. “Since Rio, I've really been into my training again.”

Under the four-year plan he has drawn up, Daiya sets 2017 as a “time for self-reflection and getting to understand myself better.” This will establish a firm foundation for the following three years.

In 2018 and 2019, Daiya plans to apply what he learns this year. He will also look beyond the individual medley, aiming to improve his times in single-stroke races. The culmination of these efforts will be the 2020 Games in Tokyo, where he hopes to achieve his ultimate goal of standing at the top of the podium.

In fact, he has already won medals in races other than the individual medley at international events, including gold in the 200m butterfly at the 2014 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships. Daiya also clocked the fastest time in the world that year to win gold at the Incheon Asian Games.

“My basic approach is of course to recognize the need to overcome my weaknesses, while also focusing on improving my strengths,” he says. “As I prepare for 2020, I really want to build on my best points.”

It seems Daiya may have his sights set on standing on the podium for butterfly at international competitions in 2018 and 2019.

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