2016 JAPAN SWIM (JAPANESE OLYMPIC TRIALS)
- Monday, April 4th – Sunday, April 10th
- Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center
- Prelims at 10am local/9pm EDT previous night; Finals at 6:30pm local/5:30am EDT
- Japanese Olympic Qualifying Times (Japanese)
- Psych Sheets (Japanese)
- Day 1 Finals Recap/Day 2 Finals Recap/Day 3 Finals Recap/Day 4 Finals Recap
- Live Stream (Prelims)
MEN’S 200 BACKSTROKE
- Japanese National Record – 1:52.51, Ryosuke Irie (2009)
- JPN Olympic Standard – 1:56.79
A remarkable 4 Japanese swimmers fall within the world’s top 10 times in the men’s 200m backstroke event, so we’re in for a mega showdown as we progress from prelims to semi’s to finals.
Everyone played it safe this morning to get started, with the top 4 swimmers hovering around the 1:57-1:58 span. 20-year-old Keita Sunama led the charge with his mark of 1:57.12, a time right near the 1:57.10 he already clocked in February at the Japanese Intercollegiate Championships. Sunama finished 6th overall at this same meet last year, earning a time of 2:00.01, so the athlete has already vastly improved during just the first round of competition.
Multi-Olympic medalist and 2016 100m backstroke Olympic qualifier Ryosuke Irie clocked a 1:57.31 to sit in his familiar surroundings in the upper tier of prelim swimmers, while Yuki Shirai earned a time less than a second behind in 1:57.76. For Irie, he’s been as fast as 1:55.42 already this year, so look for the Japanese National Record Holder to drop more time in semi’s en route to surpassing the 1:56.79 JPN Olympic standard.
- Sunama, 1:57.12
- Irie, 1:57.31
- Shirai, 1:57.76
- Matsubara, 1:58.79
- Watanabe, 2:00.26
- Hotta, 2:00.47
- Nishimura, 2:00.91
- Kaneko, 2:01.02
WOMEN’S 200 BREASTSTROKE
- Japanese National Record – 2:20.04, Rie Kaneto (2016)
- JPN Olympic Standard – 2:23.21
Japanese women represent 3 of the world’s top 10 times in this event as of today, led by the monster time of 2:10.04 27-year-old Rie Kaneto threw down at the Aquatic Super Series in Perth. That mark now stands as the Japanese National Record and has given Kaneto the confidence boost needed to hold off the likes of young guns such as 15-year-old Runa Imai.
In this morning’s race, Kaneto produced a smooth and controlled 2:24.05 to claim the top seed by over 2 full seconds, followed by IM specialist Sakiko Shimizu, who scored a time of 2:26.51.
The reigning World Champion in the event, 19-year-old Kanako Watanabe, is right in the mix, collecting a time of 2:27.15 for the 3rd seed headed into finals. Since winning the world title in a time of 2:21.15, Watanabe has been as fast as 2:22.41 at the Japanese Intercollegiate Championships earlier this year and will have no problem fighting to defend her title from this same meet in 2015 where she won in 2:20.90.
Teenager Imai, who already qualified for Rio in the women’s 200m IM yesterday, is lurking as the 4th seed after prelims, touching in 2:27.76. We know of what this youngster is capable, as she already earned a time of 2:23.43 at the World Cup in Dubai. In fact, it was this same meet last year at which Imai registered the World Junior Record of 2:23.55 in the event to earn bronze. So the question is simply when the 15-year-old will choose to unleash her talent to try to add herself to the Rio roster in a 2nd individual event.
- Kaneto, 2:24.05
- Shimizu, 2:26.51
- Watanabe, 2:27.15
- Imai, 2:27.76
- Aoki, 2:27.82
- Sekiguchi, 2:27.91
- Saitou, 2:27.95
- Kuroiwa, 2:28.34
MEN’S 200 IM
- Japanese National Record – 1:55.33, Kosuke Hagino (2014)
- JPN Olympic Standard – 1:58.02
If we thought the Japanese men had a head start on the world owning 4 of top 10 times in the 200m backstroke, they take things up to an even higher level in the sprint IM event. An incredible 5 Japanese men are ranked within the world’s top 10 times so far this season, with only America’s 22-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps having swum faster.
The fact that 5 sub-1:59-second 200 IMers call Japan home only means it will be an absolute dogfight to claim the 2 spots available on the Rio roster. The 2 men that have domestically been battling back and forth the past 2 years are dynamic Kosuke Hagino and his partner in IM crime Daiya Seto.
The fact that the two are separated by just .01 of a second in the world rankings further exemplifies just how intense this rivalry is, yet how the head-to-head competition has raised their games enough to talk of a possible double podium appearance in Rio.
Both studs already qualified for the 2016 Olympics in the 400m IM event and are gunning for the same result in this shorter distance. Hagino threw down an impressive 1:58.88 to top the prelims, while Seto registered a still-solid 1:59.40 to land himself a lane right beside the 21-year-old 400m IM Olympic bronze medalist.
A comparison of the two men’s morning splits reveal an opposite strategy, where Hagino took it out faster the first half, while Seto turned on the jets to catch the leader and fall within a second of him at the end.
Hagino – 24.78/28.98/34.89/30.23 = 1:58.88
Seto – 25.52/30.90/33.59/29.39 = 1:59.40
3rd seed Hiromasa Fujimori is still very much in the conversation for a relay spot, sitting just .39 of a second behind Seto. Fujimori also owns a sub-1:58 mark with the 1:57.66 he scored in Perth, so he very well may be the one to spoil the potential Hagino/Seto parade.
- Hagino, 1:58.88
- Seto, 1:59.40
- H. Fujimori, 1:59.79
- T. Fujimori, 2:00.53
- Tutumi, 2:01.38
- Yamada, 2:01.47
- Mizohata, 2:01.87
- Kawakami, 2:02.52
WOMEN’S 800 FREESTYLE
- Japanese National Record – 8:23.68, Sachiko Yamada (2004)
- JPN Olympic Standard – 8:25.86
And the women conclude the morning session with one of its weaker events, the 800m freestyle. Miho Takahashi led the field with a time of 8:41.85, followed by 20-year-old Yuna Kikuchi‘s mark of 8:42.62. The women have quite a gap to conquer to get in the realm of 8:25.86, the Japanese Olympic standard in the event.
Last year it took 8:33.71 to win the women’s 800m free, a time which was thrown down by Chinatsu Satou. However, Satou couldn’t muster up the same speed in today’s prelims and found herself in 9th place overall and out of the next round by just .03 of a second. (8:48.05)
- Takahashi, 8:41.85
- Kikuchi, 8:42.62
- Chida, 8:43.29
- Iwanaga, 8:43.65
- Wada, 8:44.06
- Gotou, 8:45.09
- Kusakabe, 8:46.85
- Hamada, 8:48.02