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Matsuda elected to swim Hall of Fame

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Swimmer Hitomi Matsuda, a prolific breaker of world records, will take her rightful place among the masters legends of the sport later this year.

The International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame this week announced that Matsuda is among its 2018 Hall of Fame inductees. The ceremony is scheduled for Sept. 28 in Jacksonville, Florida.

Masters swimmers are age 25 and older.

The IMSHOF summarized the 41-year-old Matsuda’s numerous accomplishments in a press release.

“Since 2004, Hitomi has been in the top 10 each of the 14 years she has competed,” the release noted. “She has set 35 long course and 45 short course FINA masters world records in the I.M. (individual medley), freestyle, butterfly and breaststroke.”

While competing in the 2014 and 2017 FINA Masters World Championships, the Tokyo native collect six gold medals and one silver. Over the years, Matsuda (nee Maehara) has amassed 80 FINA masters world records in the 25-29, 30-34, 35-39 and 40-44 age groups.

Matsuda’s feats in the pool are highly regarded within the global swimming community.

In an April 2013 feature, Swimming World Magazine named the Tokyo native one of the top 12 world masters swimmers of the year for 2012. The article noted that she had been a regular on the list (as a winner or runner-up) since 2005, missing out just once.

Matsuda’s rise to stardom began in the early 1990s. On the international scene, she made a name for herself at the 1993 East Asian Games in Shanghai, eclipsing several national marks. She retired in 1996. And after getting married, Matsuda eventually returned to competition in 2003.

After she began training with a local high school team in April 2012, Matsuda said it was a psychological boost for her.

“It is a good exchange of energy,” she told Swimming World Magazine. “I absorb energy from them (the students), and I give back my experiences with the sport.”

Of the three other 2018 Hall of Fame swimming inductees, Maurine Kornfeld of the United States is the oldest at age 97. She’s been a masters competitor for 31 years.

The 2018 class features four swimmers, two divers, a synchronized swimmer, a water polo player and a contributor who made a vital impact in tabulating swimming data and masters records, with representatives from Japan, Brazil, Germany, Austria and the United States.

The IMSHOF, a division of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, is located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.