15-Year-Old Mio Narita Nears Personal Best In 400 IM At Japan Open


Day two of the 2022 Japan Open was a little on the subdued side, but solid swims were still the order of the day at the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Centre.

Following up on his 100m freestyle victory from day one, Katsuhiro Matsumoto claimed the 200m free title today. 25-year-old Matsumoto topped the podium in a time of 1:46.44, putting up the only sub-1:47 swim of the night.

Matsumoto is the national record holder with his personal best of 1:44.65 he established in April of 2021. This past October at the Japan Short Course Championships, Matsumoto also registered the short course record in a new PB of 1:41.67.

Behind Matsumoto this evening was Tomoru Honda, the reigning 200m fly Olympic silver medalist. Honda snagged silver in 1:47.43 to produce a new personal best. Entering this meet, Honda’s career-quickest rested at the 1:48.03 he logged at the Japan National Championships this past April.

15-year-old Mio Narita was also in the water for day two, taking on the women’s 400m IM. The teen raced her way to a mark of 4:37.32 as the only swimmer to delve under the 4:40 barrier. Of note, national record holder and two-time Olympic gold medalist Yui Ohashi was not in the race.

Narita’s outing here was within striking distance of her own personal best, a time of 4:36.71 from the World Championships Trials this past March. That briefly stood as the World Junior Record until Canada’s Summer McIntosh dropped it down massively to a time of 4:29.01.

For additional perspective, teen Narita’s 4:37.32 winning effort here tonight would have placed 4th at this year’s FINA World Championships in Budapest.

Narita has already had a successful 2022, having taken the 200m IM and 400m IM gold medals at the World Junior Championships. She also claimed both titles at this year’s Junior Pan Pacific Championships, while adding the 200m back silver to her impressive junior swimming resume.

It’s worth nothing the women’s 400m IM B-final was won by Shuna Sasaki. Born in 2009, Sasaki earned a time of 4:46.35.

Rio Shirai was within a second of her own personal best en route to claiming gold in the women’s 200m free. She logged 1:57.85, while her PB stands at the 1:56.82 she produced 3 years ago. That 2019 effort rendered Shirai as the 2nd fastest Japanese performer ever, sitting only behind Rikako Ikee‘s 1:54.85.

As a reminder, Ikee is taking the rest of this year off of competitive racing. She says she wants to focus on the 2023 World Championships and the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

With just the men’s 200m back in between, Shirai also won the women’s 100m backstroke. She notched a time of 59.98 to earn the gold, just over half a second off her PB of 59.43 from 2019.

Additional Winners

  • Shogo Takeda got it done for gold in the men’s 1500m free, stopping the clock in a time of 15:04.21.
  • Satomi Suzuki beat out Reona Aoki for the top spot in the women’s 50m breast. The former touched in 30.97 to the latter’s 31.20.
  • The men’s 50m breast saw Seren Yamamoto get to the wall first in a tightly-contested race. Hayato Watanabe was just .07 behind in 27.59 while Yosuke Hirai was also right there in 27.61.
  • Daiki Yanagawa was the men’s 200m backstroke victor, with his time of 54.68 beating out runner-up Shuya Matsumoto‘s time of 54.87.

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2 months ago

Just two points (because I write too much, I know): 1) Rio Shirai swam 1.57.85 in the 200 free and then, with only the men’s 200 free in the midst, 59.98 in the 100 backstroke: remarkable double 2) Shuna Sasaki, born in 2009, won the 400 IM B-final in 4.46.35.

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Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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