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Swimmers put on traditional-style show in bid to join Tokyo 2020 torch relay

Swimmers demonstrate the traditional Japanese style of swimming in hopes of being allowed to join the torch relay for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, in the Sumida River, on the border between Tokyo's Sumida and Taito wards, on May 27, 2018. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Swimmers aiming to join the torch relay for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games performed a traditional Japanese swimming style at an event held in the Sumida River on May 27.

Some 40 swimmers demonstrated their proficiency in the traditional swimming style with origins in samurai arts dating back to the early Edo period, such as treading water while waving large flags and forming orderly rows. The Sumida River is considered to be a "holy site" of the technique where practice sessions were often held.

The swimming style is not designed for speed in races, but instead features a variety of techniques such as carrying things across the water without them getting wet. There are currently 13 schools of the style authorized by the Japanese Swimming Federation (JASF) around the country.

The JASF submitted a request to the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to set up a torch relay course for the traditional swimming style, and also plans to appeal to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and other authorities to make the course a reality.

"It will be great for us if the course for traditional Japanese swimming is set up here and we can join the torch relay," commented chairman of the Japanese traditional swimming style committee of the JASF, 63-year-old Kazuhisa Yamane. "I would like more people to learn about this traditional style of swimming."

(Japanese original by Kaori Gomi, Medical Welfare News Department)

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