1997 Honor Coach
FOR THE RECORD: 1964 OLYMPIC GAMES: Head coach; Coach of One OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: 1956 Masaru Furukawa; Coach of three WORLD RECORD HOLDERS: Hironoshin Furuhashi, Shiro Hashizume, Masaru Furukawa, Japanese National Team Coach.
The year was 1948. The world was rebuilding from the devastation of World War II and the swimming community was beginning to re-assemble for international meets and competitions. The Olympic Games were being held in London, England, and many countries participated in Olympic competition again, the first time in 12 years. The great swimmers of the Los Angeles and Berlin Olympics had retired and many new faces emerged on the scene. Records were being broken, and countries were re-building their international athletic programs. The 1948 Olympic Games were a success for swimming, except for one big void, the Japanese swimmers who had dominated world swimming during the decade of the 1930s were absent. Because of her involvement in World War II, Japan was not accepted into the Olympic family of nations.
In 1949, when Japan officially re-entered world competition, she also began to regain swimming supremacy, in large part due to the efforts of Katsuyoshi Murakami, the great coach of the Tokyo Swim Club. He was also coach at Nihon University in Tokyo and began his international debut as the Japanese national team coach at the 1949 AAU National Swimming Championships in Los Angeles.
Seven thousand spectators thunderously applauded the Japanese swimmers, as they competed at the championships in the same pool in which Japan had won all but one of the men's swimming events during the 1932 Olympic Games. All eyes were focused on Murukami's swimmers Hironoshin Furuhashi, known as the "Flying Fish," and Shiro Hashizume, both distance swimmers in the 1500m race. The scene was similar to when Japan's Kusuo Kitamura astonished the world by streaking to a 1500m victory in the 1932 Olympiad in the same pool. At the 800m mark, Hashizume set a world record of 9:45.5 and again at the 1000 meter mark, 12:14.8. Furuhashi won the race at 18:29.9, which was 50.8 seconds faster than the time of USA's Jimmy McLane at the Olympic Games less than a year earlier. Even for his distance swimmers, Murakami had his swimmers using a wind-mill-fast-arm speed and accentuated leg kick. Hard training and conditioning led to Furuhashi's fast arm turn-over pace: 50 strokes per 50 meters as compared to McLane's 38-40 strokes per 50 meters.
Murakami's swimmers became the heroes of the Japanese people, lifting their morale and spirits.
The people felt towards these swimmers a veneration only comparable to that of Emperor Hirohito. Furuhashi and Hashizume had eleven would records between them.
Murakami continued his coaching career in Tokyo, and in 1956, he produced the Olympic 200m breaststroke champion Masaru Furukawa who also set seven world breaststroke records and three as a member of world record relays.
Murakami coached the 1964 Japan Olympic Team
at the Tokyo Olympic Games, the first time the Olympic Games were held in the
© 1997 ISHOF, Inc.