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Masami Tanaka and Mai Nakamura Two Olympic Champion Swimmers from Japan That Were a Huge Success

Updated on January 17, 2018

Introduction to Masami Tanaka and Mai Nakamura

Masami Tanaka and Mai Nakamura are two Japanese female Olympic swimmers that competed at around the same time period. Masami Tanaka and Mai Nakamura are not just former professional swimmers. They are swimmers that are champions of their sport and should be recognized even though it is now 2018.

A Few Photos of Former Breaststroke Swimmer Masami Tanaka


Who is Masami Tanaka and Why is She Famous?

Masami Tanaka, a former Japanese breaststroke swimmer entered the world on January 5, 1979. A native of the island of Hokkaido, Tanaka is best known for her performance in the 4 X 100 meter medley during the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. She won the bronze medal with her teammates Mai Nakamura, Junko Onishi, and Sumika Minamoto. The medley is a relay event where each swimmer gets a turn to swim the length of the pool twice. They swim that length twice if it is a 100 meter event. She competed in three summer Olympic events starting with the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. Masami started to swim at the young age of seven.

Masami Tanaka Early Career Success

Masami Tanaka had her first taste of success in swimming when she received a gold medal in 1997 at a long course event. But prior to this in 1994, she also became a champion at the 100 meter and 200 meter breaststroke competitions. During the 200 meter breaststroke event in Sicily, Masami got what was then her first gold medal at the Summer Universiade. In 1998 at the Pan Pacific Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, she received a silver medal in the 200 meter breaststroke event. In that same year in Perth, Australia during the long course World Championships, Tanaka received a bronze medal for her efforts in the 4 X 100 meter relay.

Masami Tanaka Later Career and Retirement

But 1999 proved to be Masami’s best year for swimming. During the short course World Championships in Hong Kong, she received a gold medal in the 50, 100, and 200 meter breaststroke events. In addition, Masami Tanaka received a gold medal in the 4 X 100 meter medley relay. Four years later in the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, Tanaka got a 4th place finish in the 200 meter breaststroke event. She retired from swimming in 2005 and now works as a sports broadcaster. Masami Tanaka also has a very nice voice to go along with her slender, athletic body.

About Japanese Olympic Swimmer Mai Nakamura

China is not the only Asian nation that has historically been great at Olympic swimming events. Japan has also had many swimming champions. Mai Nakamura is one of them. A native of Niigata, Japan, Mai Nakamura entered the world on July 16, 1979. Mai’s parents divorced when she was just four years old and was raised by her mother. Mai became involved with swimming at the young age of 4. In junior high school, she won the 100 meter backstroke event. Note: this Mai Nakamura is not the same athlete as synchronized swimmer Mai Nakamura.

During the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Mai finished in 4th place in the 100 meter backstroke. In the 4 X 100 meter medley relay, she finished in 9th place. Four years later in Sydney Australia, Nakamura earned a silver medal in the Women’s 100 meter backstroke and a bronze medal in the Women’s 4 X 100 meter medley. In 2002, she graduated from the University but did not qualify for the 2004 Olympics in Athens Greece. In 2006, Mai started to have shoulder problems and was defeated the following year during the World Championships. She announced her retirement from swimming and now works as a swimming instructor for children. Her retirement from the sport was announced in April 2007. What was Nakamura’s biggest achievement as a swimmer? She is the former world record holder in the 50 meter backstroke event. Nakamura issued a statement about her retirement saying "I feel relieved, although I can't think of my life without swimming. I want to hand down the wonderful feelings you get from the sport," (Mai Nakamura Announces Retirement, 2007). Injuries are unfortunately something that happens often in sports but Mai Nakamura can rest assured that she left the sport of swimming being a champion.


Mai Nakamura Announces Retirement. (2007, April 27). Tokyo, Japan.


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