Ryosuke Irie

Ryosuke Irie (入江 陵介, Irie Ryōsuke, born 24 January 1990) is a Japanese competitive swimmer who competes in backstroke events. He is a Kinki University student in Osaka.

Ryosuke Irie
Personal information
Full nameRyosuke Irie
Nickname(s)Iriemon, Kitajima no.2
National team Japan
Born (1990-01-24) 24 January 1990
Tennoji-ku, Osaka
Height1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)[1]
Weight62 kg (137 lb)
ClubItoman Toshin
College teamKinki University

He won a silver medal in the 200 metre backstroke and a bronze in the 100 metre backstroke at the 2012 Summer Olympics, along with a silver in the men's 4 × 100 m medley with the Japanese team.[2][3] His beautiful backstroke technique has often been compared to Roland Matthes, who was described as the Rolls-Royce of swimming.[4]


He was born in Osaka and started his actual swimming career in his junior high school years. When he was in the second grade, future Olympic backstroke medalist Ryosuke Irie hated swimming. He loathed it so much that his mother had to carry a crying Irie to his coach at poolside.

When he first joined, Irie was one of the slowest swimmers in the elite Itoman Toshin swimming school in Suminoe Ward, Osaka. He joined the school because his older brother, Shinpei Irie, who had won numerous national-level competitions, was in the program. He reluctantly continued swimming only because his mother, Kumiko, promised she would ask the coach if he could quit a year after he joined the school.

Irie initially trained in freestyle, but began swimming the backstroke alone for long periods before and after practice. Backstroke was suitable for Irie because it did not require as much power as freestyle, and soon, Irie began winning national-level competitions and breaking junior high school records.

A year after Irie began training at the elite school, his mother had forgotten her promise to ask the coach if her son could quit.[5]

In 2005 he won the national high school championships in 200 meter backstroke when he was a first year grade student. He made new high school student record in Japanese national championships in April 2006. He narrowly missed the entry for FINA World Aquatics Championships of that year. He won a gold medal with the time of 1:58.85 in 200 m backstroke at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar.[6]

In August 2007, he attended his first world swimming competition, International Swim Meet 2007 held in Chiba, Japan. On August 22, he beat the previous high school record in 100 m backstroke with the time of 54.07 s. The next day, he beat another high school record in 200 m backstroke with the time of 1:57.03.

World record controversy

He swam the 200 meter backstroke in a Japanese record time of 1:52.86 on May 10, 2009 in a Japan-Australia swimming contest held in Canberra. Even though the time was lower than the world record, his time was rejected by FINA,[7] swimming's international governing body, because he did not wear an approved suit. Japan's swimming federation did approve the record, however, along with several others in which Japanese swimmers wore unapproved suits that were later ruled to yield an unfair advantage. Irie's time would have sliced a massive 1.08 seconds off the 200 meter record set by American Ryan Lochte when he won gold at the Beijing Olympics. The high-tech swimsuit, which is made by Japanese sport wear manufacture Descente (who owns Arena), was not approved by FINA in a meeting held on May 20, 2009, and was called for modifications along with other 136 models.[8] In the same meet, he swam a time of 52.56, which was only 0.02 seconds off the world record of Aaron Peirsol, set at the Olympic Games the previous year. With an approved suit, Irie won the silver, Lochte the bronze and Aaron Piersol won gold in the 200m backstroke at the 2009 World Aquatics Championships in Rome later that year. Irie's time of 1:52.51 was a new Asian record, and the second fastest in the history of 200m backstroke.

Swimming technique

Ryosuke Irie is credited with having the most graceful and effective backstroke technique in the world.[9] Before, he did a lot of backstroke training with a water bottle on his head (Invented by East Carolina University Swim and Dive, 1990's), to ensure that his head is very steady, and to maintain the smoothness of his stroke. Irie has paid a lot of attention to achieving a perfect technique from a young age, which is why despite his small size in comparison to other world-class backstrokers, he can still attain great results. While he did not medal at the Rio 2016 games [10] his training continues as he hopes to win gold in his home country at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Personal bests and records

Long course (50 m)
Event Time Date Meet Location Ref
50 m backstroke 24.79 (h) 1 Aug 2009World Championships Rome, Italy
100 m backstroke 52.24 NR 5 Sep 2009Japan University Championships Kumamoto, Japan [11]
200 m backstroke 1:52.51 AS, NR 31 Jul 2009World Championships Rome, Italy
Short course (25 m)
Event Time Date Meet Location Ref
50 m backstroke 24.32 (h) 17 Dec 2010World SC Championships Dubai, United Arab Emirates
100 m backstroke 50.55 16 Dec 2010World SC Championships Dubai, United Arab Emirates
200 m backstroke 1:49.78 AS, NR 26 Feb 2011Japanese SC National Championships Tokyo, Japan [12]
Legend: ASAsian record; NRJapanese record;
Records not set in finals: h – heat; sf – semifinal; r – relay 1st leg; rh – relay heat 1st leg; b – B final; – en route to final mark; tt – time trial


  1. "Japanese Medalists in London 2012 Olympics". joc.or.jp. Japanese Olympic Committee. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-01-03. Retrieved 2013-01-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. "Ryosuke Irie Bio, Stats, and Results". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved 2019-01-19.
  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-28. Retrieved 2015-04-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. "Irie owes pool success to natural talent, mother". Asahi Shimbun. 11 July 2012. Archived from the original on 12 April 2015. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  6. http://pagelous.com/en/pages/5365c6d9421aa9073f0ac692
  7. http://www.fina.org/project/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2487&Itemid=108%5B%5D
  8. https://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hhKwENfdRAc5qPphLSvC3kCLhseA
  9. http://athletestalk.com/2013/04/ryosuke-irie/
  10. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-08-26. Retrieved 2016-08-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. "Japan University Championships: Ryosuke Irie Blasts 100 Back, Sets Asian Record". swimmingworldmagazine. 2009-09-05. Archived from the original on 2012-03-22. Retrieved 2009-09-05.
  12. "Japanese Short Course National Championships: Daiya Seto, Ryosuke Irie, Kosuke Kitajima Set National Records". Swimming World Magazine. 2011-02-26. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2011-02-26.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Rebecca Soni
Mare Nostrum Tour Overall Winner
Succeeded by
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