The final two days of the Japanese High School Championship wrapped on Monday morning, with more spectacular swimming from Akihiro Yamaguchi serving as the highlight.
Yamaguchi made his first big statement in this meet in the 200 breaststroke, where he won in the world’s #3-ranked time. He’s not quite as good in the 100 as he is in the 200, but for the teenage heir-aparent to Kitajima a 59.56 to become the first high school swimmer in Japan’s history under the minute barrier will be plenty satisfying. That time ranks him 8th in the world this year (though Kitajima was faster at April’s Olympic Trials). This is a 1.1 second drop from his previous best.
His time progression in this 100 shows that while Japan has just now unleashed him on the world, he’s definitely not “out of nowhere”. He’s simply been buried in the deep Japanese breaststroking system. By comparison, over the same time period as below, he’s dropped around 6 seconds in his 200:
2008 (14) – 1:02.65
2009 (15) - 1:01.39
2010 (16) - 1:02.35
2011 (17) – 1:00.98
2012 (still 17) – 1:00.66
2012 (18) – 59.56
In other big swims of the day, Takeshi Kawamoto broke the Meet Record, and nearly the National high school record, with a 54.64 in the men’s 100 back. Kawamoto already has some good international experience behind him with a silver medal from the Tokyo stop on last year’s FINA World Cup Series.
Kenta Hirai, who is better known for his exploits in the 200 fly where he’s the defending World Junior Champion, won the boys’ 100 fly in 53.48. The men’s 400 IM was without Olympic bronze medalist Kosuke Hagino, who did compete in the 400 free earlier in this meet.
On the women’s side, Japan’s Kanako Watanabe won the girls’ 100 breaststroke in 1:07.95. That’s her best time of 2012, where her focus has been the 200 that she swam in London.
Following the trend in Japanese senior women’s swimming, the junior women lit up the freestyle record books this week, too. Miki Uchida just missed her own National High School Record with a 25.37 in the 50 (she was a 25.33 at the Japan Open in May). But she did get Meet Records in both that race and the 100 in 55.46 for the 17-year old. She was followed in both races by fellow 17-year old Mao Kawakami in times of 25.94/55.80, respectively.
Full meet results are available here (in Japanese).