Ayatsugu Hirai

800m and 1500m Freestyle

Ayatsugu Hirai is a competitive swimmer specialized in 800m and 1500m freestyle events who joined Yusen Logistics in 2016. Learn more about his career and athletic achievements.


Q1.What first inspired you to take up competitive swimming?

 Six months after I was born, I started swimming because of my brother, who is 3 years older than me. I say swimming, but it was infant swimming; I started taking competitive swimming classes when I was in kindergarten.

Q2.What type of training do you typically do?

 I swim 10 times a week, and do athletics training 3 times a week.
Each swimming session lasts roughly between 2 and 2.5 hours. On a short day, I might swim around 7,000m; on a long day, I swim about 10,000m. Each athletics session is 1 hour or so.

Q3.What sort of training do you do to prepare for international competitions?

 I try to abroad as much as I can, and train with leading swimmers from around the world.
If there are other swimmers I can compete with during training on a daily basis, this not only increases the quality of the sessions, but also enables me to squeeze out power during training that I wouldn’t be able to generate alone—and the stronger the other swimmers are, the more this holds true.

Q4.What do you think is the most important element of being a competitive athlete?

 I think the most important thing is “continuity.”
It goes without saying that it is vital to increase the quality of the training you do on a daily basis; however, I believe that the only way to achieve the goals I have set myself is to continuously and repeatedly do the small things, steadily and diligently. Since falling into a slump in 2014, I keep a training diary every day and have continued to do 1 hour or so of stretching before I go to bed.

Q5.What is your motto?

 “Whatever will be, will be.”
You never know when you will be visited by happiness or sadness; so, it is pointless to look at things from a short-term perspective. During my competitive career so far, there have been many good and many bad things—so it is tempting to be glad and sad by turns. On such occasions, however, I remember my motto, and ensure that I do not lose sight of my long-term aims and goals.

Q6.What circumstances led you to want to represent Yusen Logistics in swimming? What is your impression of the company now that you are an employee?

 Former chairman Hiromitsu Kuramoto said: “continuity itself requires hard work.” These words struck a chord with me, and made me want to represent Yusen Logistics as a swimmer. Since joining the company, I have received the support of many people—nothing could be better for a competitive athlete. At the rapidly-approaching international multi-sport competition, I hope to achieve success and be able to share my joy with everyone at the company.


To all my supporters: thank you for your continued support.

My event—the 1500m freestyle—is an extremely lonely event.

When the race begins, I dive into the water and for approximately 15 minutes all I can hear is the sound of water and all I can see is the bottom of the pool. These 15 minutes are a mixture of suffering and loneliness—but every time I compete I am spurred onward by the support of large numbers of people. I am truly grateful.

As I map my path to the international multi-sport competition in 2020, I believe that I will have to go up against the strongest rivals I have ever faced in my competitive swimming career.

To be honest, I am not blessed with the ideal physique for swimming. While the majority of international competitors are 190 centimeters tall or more, I am just 172cm tall. I have never met a 1500m swimmer at a global competition who is shorter than me.

For this reason, I intend to undertake the challenge of international competition by training more than anyone else, pushing myself harder than anyone else, and taking advantage of support from more people than anyone else.

Nothing would make me happier than if you would continue to support me in the future.

Thank you.

Ayatsugu Hirai

  • Employment Date: April 1, 2016
  • Department: Career Development Section
    Human Resources & General Affairs Department
  • Date of Birth: May 20, 1993
  • Main Event: 800m and 1500m Freestyle
  • Personal Best(1500m, long course): 14:56.10
  • Personal Best(1500m, short course): 14:31.64 (Japanese record)

Career Highlights

2008 The 48th All Japan Junior High School Swimming Championship 1500m Freestyle Gold
2010 The 33th JOC Junior Olympic Cup 1500m Freestyle Gold
2011 The 79th Inter High School Athletic Meeting 1500m Freestyle Gold
2012 The 89th Inter College Swimming Championships 1500m Freestyle Gold
2013 The 89th Japan Swim 1500m Freestyle Gold
  The 15th FINA World Aquatics Championships 1500m Freestyle 9th
2015 Tokyo Big6 Swimming Championship 1500m Freestyle Gold Short-course Japanese record
  The 91st Japan Swim 1500m Freestyle Gold
  The 28th Summer Universiade 1500m Freestyle Gold
2016 The 92nd Japan Swim 1500m Freestyle Silver
2018 The 94th Japan Swim 1500m Freestyle Silver
  The 18th Asian Games 1500m Freestyle 5th
2019 The 95th Japan Swim 800m & 1500m Freestyle Gold
  Japan Open 800m & 1500m Freestyle Gold