Japanese artistic swimmer Ikoi Hirota is pictured during the national team's training in Tokyo on April 23, 2023. (Kyodo)

Tiny Japanese artistic swimmer Ikoi Hirota made her international debut in March as a jumping specialist for the team acrobatic routine.

At 150 centimeters tall, the 19-year-old has pledged to shine on the national team comprised of women who are around 20 cm taller than her and inspire other height-challenged athletes with her performances.

"I want to become an athlete who makes other shorter athletes think they can step up," Hirota said.

The acrobatic routine has been added to the Olympic artistic swimming program for next year's Paris Games.

National team head coach Takako Nakajima has high hopes that Hirota can utilize her agility and flexibility for lifts, saying, "As Japan, we want to create something never seen before."

At March's World Cup meet in Markham, Canada, Ikoi made an immediate impact for Japan with a high, clean double backflip.

"I stayed calm and got my job done," Hirota said. "I just couldn't hold back my tears (after the team performance) for that successful lift."

The Osaka Prefecture native took up artistic swimming, formerly known as synchronized swimming, at age 6, thanks to her older sister Itsuki, who won both the national solo technical and free routines earlier this month but was left out of Japan's squad for the world championships in Fukuoka in July.

"My sister comes to my mind whenever I have difficult times during national team activities," Hirota said.

"It's a major development (to have shorter team members in artistic swimming). I'd like to produce results at the worlds for those who introduced this (acrobatic) routine."