YASUNARI “YASU” HIRAI SWIMMER – OLYMPIAN – ICON
With the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games around the corner,
Yasunari “Yasu” Hirai is one of Japan’s most influential swimmers
in the Open Water category, specifically the 10km event.
His constant evolution and sheer dedication has kept him competing
on an international level for ten years with future intentions to
remain a consistent representative of the
Japanese National Swimming Team.
First entering the pool at a very young age, Yasu rose to prominence in 2008 by placing 1st in the 400m Freestyle event at Japan’s National High School Championship and later participated in the 2008 FINA Youth World Swimming Championship in Monterrey (Mexico). By 2009, Yasu had entered the Open Water division where his endurance and dedication to long- distance swimming led him to secure a position on the Japanese National Team by 2010. One year later, in 2011, Yasu competed at the 14th edition of the FINA World Championships in Shanghai (China), yet his first significant international accomplishment came slightly later in the year at the XXVI Summer Universiade in Shenzhen (China) where he received a bronze medal in the 10km event.
His assiduity secured him a position on the Japanese Olympic Team for the 2012 London Olympics, becoming Japan’s first ever Olympic Open Water representative and finishing in 15th place in the 10km event. His list of accomplishments continued with each succeeding year, competing at the 2013 and 2015 FINA World Championships in Barcelona (Spain) and Kazan (Russia), respectively, as well as the 2013 XXVII Summer Universiade in Kazan (Russia). After graduating with a degree in Economics from the Meiji University in Japan, Yasu relocated to Australia to join the Bond Swimming Team at the University of Western Australia and thereafter TSS, where he trained in an elite team of three. The following year, he placed 6th at the 2014 Pan Pacific Swimming Championship in Queensland, Australia. Returning to the Olympic stage at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, Yasu placed 8th in the 10km event with a time of 1:53:04.6, only 4.8 seconds after the 1st place Champion. In 2017, he competed at the FINA World Championships in Budapest (Hungary) as well as being the Champion of the Asian Swimming Championships in Tokyo (Japan).
Yasu exemplified the individuality of swimming by relying on his own capacity without the assistance of a permanent trainer in the later stages of his career; he was a global traveler who chose to train with different national teams. In April of 2019, he joined the Swedish team to Hurghada (Egypt); in May, he joined the Dutch team to Eindhoven (the Netherlands); and next, he joined the German team to for high-altitude training at Font Romeu (France). Having achieved the Olympic dream twice, Yasu has decided to leave behind the cap and googles by retiring from competitive swimming as of January 2020.
Turning towards the future, Yasu looks to implement his background in economics and swimming with a start-up company related to healthcare.
Currently residing in central Tokyo, his interests outside of swimming has allowed him to develop a deep knowledge of fashion, street culture, and marital arts.
Rio Replay: Men's Open Water 10km Marathon Final
Re-Live: Marathon Swimming - 10km Men - Olympic Games Qualification Tournament
London 2012 Olympic Games