Japan's Daiya Seto sped to a Japan-record 1 minute, 52.53 seconds to win the men's 200-meter butterfly on Saturday in the Champions Swim Series 2020 in Beijing.
Despite saying he was not in good form, Seto broke the national mark set at the 2008 Beijing Olympics by Takeshi Matsuda, in the days before full-body swimsuits were banned.
Seto's time was 1.80 seconds back of the current world record, set last July by Hungary's Kristof Milak, and is now the world's third-fastest time after the 1:51:51 recorded by Michael Phelps of the United States in 2009.
"I surprised myself by getting this great record. My condition is not all that good," Seto said. "If I think about how I could go for broke and win even in difficult circumstances and then set a Japan record in my personal best time, that's a huge confidence boost."
Seto finished 3.34 ahead of the runner-up, Hungary's Tamas Kenderesi. Japan's Masato Sakai was third in 1:56.23.
The national record is Seto's first in a 50-meter pool, but he came close to another nearly an hour later when his time in the 200 individual medley was 0.48 shy of Kosuke Hagino's 1:55.07.