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Fact Of The Day

Oct 1, 1998

There was a time when Hironoshin Furuhashi, now Vice-President of FINA, was more colloquially known as "The Flying Fish of Fujiyama".

On August 16th, 1949, Furuhasi and his team mate, Shiro Hashizume, both broke the world 1500 metres record in separate heats of the American championships in Los Angeles. Japan had not been invited to compete in the the previous year's first post-war Olympics in London, but now the two 21-year-olds from Nippon University were out to show their mettle.

The world record at the beginning of the meet was 18:58.8. Hashizume started the proceedings by clipping 23.1 seconds off the world mark with the then unbelievable time of 18:35.7.

Now Furuhashi dived in, and swimming his bumpy, highly unorthodox straight-arm stroke with broken-tempo kick, he was soon into his stride systematically breaking all the split times set in Hashizume's record-breaking first heat.

The huge crowd gaped as Furuhashi went through the 400 metres in 4:44.6. He reached the 800 metres mark in 9:40.5, well under the world record of 9:50.9, then continued relentlessly to finish the 1500 in 18:19.0, a time no less than 39.8 seconds faster than the world record at the beginning of the meet.

In another heat, a third Japanese swimmer, Sumio Tanaka, won his heat in 19:19.3, almost four seconds faster than 1948 Olympic Champion, Jimmy McLane's, AAU record of 19:23.1.

Japan was back on the world scene.