2015 FINA World Cup Tokyo: Day 2 Recap


The first day of competition brought us two Japanese National Records, as well as some feisty swimming by Aussie backstroking talents Emily Seebohm and Mitch Larkin, in addition to fast finishes by Hungarian Katinka Hosszu, Americans Molly Hannis and Giles Smith and South African Cameron Van der Burgh.

Today’s racing brought even more excitement and thrilling finishes to the pool, complete with a new World Junior Record and Australian Record to top off the competition in Tokyo.


Yesterday’s on-fire duo from Japan, Rikako Ikee and Miki Uchida continued their sprint siege right off the bat today, finishing 1-2 in the women’s 100 free.  Ikee set the standard with her winning time of 54.14, a time just .14 over the current Japanese National Rcord of 54.00 held by Haruka Ueda since 2012. Ikee showed up in a big way yesterday, breaking her nation’s record in the 100 butterfly.  Uchida was runner-up in the 100 free, but was just .10 behind her teammate, clocking a swift 54.24.  This follows up her new Japanese National Record in the 50m freestyle yesterday.  Eith both Ikee and Uchida now within .3 of the 100m free Japanese record, the 54.00 mark certainly appears to be on borrowed time.  Hungarian Katinka Hosszu rounded out the podium in the race tonight, registering a solid 54.39.


Yuuki Kobori was the top seed out of prelims and carried his momentum into the final, leading a 1-2-3 sweep of podium spots in the event by the Japanese. Kobori touched the wall first in a time of 1:47.59, knocking just under two seconds off of his prelims effort of 1:49.42. Silver tonight went to Reo Sakata with his time of 1:48.24 and bronze was awarded to Naito Ehara who finished in 1:48.71. American Zane Grothe came into the final tied for the 2nd seed, but fell to 5th, registering a final time of 1:49.57.


USA breaststroker Molly Hannis won the gold in tonight’s sprint event, clocking a 30.63 to double up on her 100m breaststroke win from yesterday. Alia Atkinson from Jamaica, who surprisingly didn’t make yesterday’s 100m breast final, wound up with the silver on tonight’s 50m race, touching behind Hannis in a time of 30.79. Australian Leiston Pickett raced to 3rd tonight, touching the wall in a time of 30.88, the same spot on the podium she earned yesterday in the 100m distance.


Cameron Van der Burgh continued his streak of 100m breaststroke wins, as well as his streak of sub-minute swims, as he topped tonight’s field in a time of 59.97. This marks the South African’s 11th consecutive World Cup win in this event. VDB was the only competitor to dip beneath the minute threshold, beating runner-up Australian swimmer, Jake Packard, by almost a second (1:00.92).  3rd place went to Japanese swimmer Yoshiki Yamanaka with his tie of 1:01.29. American Kevin Cordes, who was also quiet in yesterday’s 200m final, finishing 8th, settled for 4th in tonight’s race (1:01.35).


Australia picked up its first win on the night in the form of Christopher Wright‘s gold medal-earning 100 fly swim, which raked in a time of 52.77. This marks Wright’s first World Cup win since way back in 2008.  Takeshi Kawamoto earned silver in tonight’s race in a time of 52.82, while American Tom Shields painstakingly earned bronze by just .01 of a second, touching in 52.83.  Shields’ time is middle-of-the-road for the USA National Teamer, whose 2015 times in this event have ranged from 53.75 on the Golden Tour to 51.03 at the World Championships.


Red-hot Australian Emily Seebohm kept up her winning ways, charging to the wall with the 100m back win in an incredible time of 58.37. Not only does this win mark Seebohm’s 8th in a row on the World Cup circuit, but this performance ranks as Seebohm’s 2nd-fastest of the year, sitting only behind the 58.26 she registered in Kazan for World Championship gold.  #IronLady Hosszu settled for silver with her time of 1:00.01, while Japanese backstroker Miyuki Takemura claimed bronze in a time of 1:01.15.


After leading prelims with a swift time of 24.62, American David Plummer lowered his mark even further to clock the world’s 3rd-fastest time in the event this year, a 24.58. Runner-up to Plummer in this all-out arm-spinning sprint was Australian double world champion and backstroking monster, Mitchell Larkin. Larkin threw down a 24.62 as a warm-up to his thrilling 200m backstroke final which takes place later in the session.  USA Junior National team member, Michael Andrew, collected his 2nd bronze medal of the meet, following up his 50m fly hardware with a 3rd place finish here in 25.30.


2015 World Champion in this event, Natsumi Hoshi from Japan, clocked the win tonight in a time of 2:08.13. Although well off the 2:05.56 she registered in Kazan for her title, Hoshi’s performance tonight was enough to hold off a charging Zsuzsuanna Jakabos from Hungary, who finished less than a second behind for silver in a tie of 2:08.89. Japanese swimmer Hurano Itou rounded out the top 3 with her time of 2:10.29.


With just 1 of 8 competitors as not stemming from Japan, the host country went 1-2-3 in this event, led by Hiromasa Fujimori. Fujimori clocked the only sub-2-minute time of the field, registering a 1:59.76 for the gold. Keita Sunama finished just under a second behind in a time of 2:00.75, while teammate Ippei Watanabe cleared a time of 2:01.88 for 3rd.  Watanabe was yesterday’s runner-up in the 200m breaststroke event. For his part, Fujimori was in the lead most of yesterday’s men’s 400m IM race, until Hungarian David Verraszto turned on the jets the final 50 to just out-touch him by fourth tenths of a second.


World Cup points leader on the women’s side, Hosszu nabbed her first win on day 2, clinching the gold in the women’s 400m free in a time of 4:08.87. The #IronLady comfortably finished ahead of Japanese swimmer Chihiro Igarashi who touched in 4:10.65, as well as Australian swimmer Leah Neale, who finished in 4:11.12. In her first return to competition post-doping ban ordeal, Neale’s teammate Kylie Palmer was competed in this event this morning in prelims, but would end up 23rd with a time of 4:21.97.


In a comparatively sluggish splash n’ dash final to what we’ve seen in previous meets this year, none of the finals competitors was able to crack the 22-second mark tonight. Katsumi Nakamura, the Japanese National Record Holder in this event, registered a win tonight in a tie of 22.15, while teammate Shinri Shioura clocked a 22.40 for silver. Bronze tonight went to American Anthony Ervin, who touched in 22.56 after not having made it to the final yesterday in his other signature event, the 100m freestyle.


Japan earned yet another top-of-the-podium finish, this time in the form of Rie Kaneto‘s 200m breaststroke win in a time of 2:23.01. Kaneto’s performance was swift enough to surpass the 2015 World Champion, Kanako Watanabe, who would end up touching in 2:23.43 for silver. Canada’s Kierra Smith surged to the bronze medal position, touching in 2:24.51 for her efforts tonight.


And, in THE swim of the night, Australian backstroking ace Mitch Larkin threw down one of the most impressive swims of the year. Already sitting atop the World Championship throne in this event with an incredible performance in Kazan, Larkin goes even further, lowering his own Australian and Commonwealth Records with an astonishing time of 1:53.34. For Larkin, this registers as the 7th-fastest performance of all time and the feat makes him the 4th-fastest performer on the all-time list. The runner-up in this race, a legend in his own right, Ryosuke Irie (JPN) finished in 1:56.00, while Masaki Kaneko claimed bronze in 1:58.65.


*Note – see event #1* Remember how we said that the Japanese dynamic duo of Rikako Ikee and Miki Uchida were on-fire? The pair went 1-2 in another sprint event again tonight, taking the gold and silver in the women’s 50m butterfly.  Only this time, Ikee registered a shiny new World Junior Record for her efforts! Ikee’s time of 26.17 overtakes the existing mark of Razaliya Nasretdinova (Russia) set at 26.26 from the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing. Uchida’s time tonight of 26.23 also fell beneath this old WJR time. Aussie Jessica Hobbin touched the wall in 26.83 for bronze.


Ayatsugu Hirai wound up with the win in this grueling swim tonight, finishing in a time of 15:16.39. As amazingly close as this more than 15-minute race can become, tonight’s even was no different, as Syogo Takeda took silver just .37 behind in 15:16.76. Yousuke Miyamoto took the bronze in 15:20.69.


Katinka Hosszu nabbed gold medal #2 on the night, clinching the win in the 400 IM in a time of 4:37.26, keeping her consecutive World Cup win streak alive in this event at 6. Runner-up in tonight’s race was Japan’s Miho Takahashi in 4:38.83, while Sakiko Shimzu finished with the bronze in 4:39.85.

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6 years ago

Another bronze medal for Andrew, 25.30 is quite fast this early in the season, but considering its not an Olympic Event it wont be on his radar very much this year.

6 years ago

Absolutely insane to see Australia’s backstroke talent right now. Seebohm and Larkin dominating time again and again and so young! 23 and 22 years old respectively. Consistent 58s by Seebohm and a 1:53 by Larkin right now are massively impressive.

This is definitely going to be exciting once they’re challenged in Rio by Missy and Ryan Murphy. You might say “oh but the Australians are doing super well right now, nobody can beat them!” Sure, but Missy is back with Todd in Colorado focusing exclusively on the Olympics and no more NCAAs. That’s a dangerous threat right there. And Murphy was just 52.18/1:55 at World Champs. Another year under Durden at Cal with LCM practices aplenty and you know you’ve… Read more »

Reply to  EmZee
6 years ago

We will have to wait and see how 2016 pans out. Larkin probably does not have any real domestic competition at this point but this cannot be said for Seebohm. She has Wilson (2nd in Kazan) swimming well below 59 over 100 who will also be looking for a significant drop in her 200. Hocking is on the way back after serious injury and it remains to be seen whether she can return to her best but at her best is a 2.06 flat 200 swimmer and 59.3 for 100. There is also Atherton who was swimming repeat 59.5s at World Juniors; she may be a bolter for Olympic selection.

No one in their right mind would write Franklin off… Read more »

Reply to  commonwombat
6 years ago

Great insights, my post was maintaining a more narrow focus on the backstroke youth of Australia vs the backstroke youth of the US. Both have a top level male and female backstroker and just seeing that duality was something neat I wanted to make note of.

By no means would I deny any up and comers! Put them into the mix and things really do get super interesting, thanks for adding that all on!

Reply to  EmZee
6 years ago

Another factor which I suspect has had a positive impact on both Larkin & Seebohm over the past 12 months is that they have both dropped the 200IM from their programs. This has allowed Larkin to essentially specialise on Backstroke. Seebohm will obviously keep her hand in on freestyle with an eye to retaining a position on the AUS W4X100; she was back under 54sec for the first time in 5 years in Kazan with her lead-off legs in both heats and final. Wilson at 54flat will also have interests in being part of that relay squad ….. perhaps a mirror of the US situation with Franklin/Coughlin having “dual interests” ?

6 years ago

Larkin was incredible but less is being said about Seebohm. I think 58.3 at this time in the year is stupid fast.

6 years ago

More importantly, Larkin ranks 3rd all-time in textile, less than a tenth behind Irie’s 2014 Asian Games swim.

6 years ago

Mitch Larkin is on fire. I know it’s early, but it already looks like it will take a monumental effort from somebody in the “rest of the field” to beat him in Rio.

About Retta Race

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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