2023 Japan Open Day 1 Recap: Aussie Breaststrokers Bust Out Best Times


The 2023 Japan Open kicked off today from the Tokyo Aquatics Center, host of the swimming competition of the 2020 Olympic Games.

Along with a strong domestic contingent, there are sprinklings of swimmers stemming from Australia, Germany and beyond also racing over the 4-day competition.

We reported a trio of strong performances right off the bat on day one, with Tomoru Honda hitting a lifetime best in the men’s 400m IM and Kyle Chalmers (AUS) and Josha Salchow (GER) putting up respective efforts of 48.15 and 48.30 in the men’s 100m free.

However, a big story unfolded in the breaststroke events on both the men’s and women’s sides this evening.

Although Japan’s Yu Hanaguruma won the A-final in a time of 59.77, the fastest time of the night in the men’s 100m breast came from Aussie Sam Williamson in the B-Final.

25-year-old Williamson posted a speedy effort of 59.26, a new lifetime best.

The Melbourne Vicentre athlete opened in 27.51 and closed in 31.75 to hack over half a second off of his previous career-quickest of 59.82. That prior PB was logged en route to claiming the bronze at last year’s Commonwealth Games.

With his 59.26 performance, Williamson now ranks as Australia’s 5th-fastest 100m breaststroker of all-time, bumping former 200m breast World Record holder Zac Stubblety-Cook out of the top 5.

Top 6 Australian Men’s LCM 100 Breaststroke Performers

  1. Brenton Rickard – 58.58, 2009
  2. Christian Sprenger – 58.79, 2013
  3. Matt Wilson – 59.17, 2019
  4. Jake Packard – 59.20, 2018
  5. Sam Williamson – 59.26, 2023
  6. Zac Stubblety-Cook – 59.51, 2022

Regarding ZSC, Williamson’s outing now puts his possible Olympic bid in this 100m race at risk.

The two battled in this event at Australia’s World Championships Trials, with ZSC getting the close win in 59.68 to Williamson’s 59.86. The latter’s time tonight now puts the spotlight on him as, between the two, Williamson is the only one to now have dipped under the Paris 2024 qualification time set by Swimming Australia of 59.49.

Of note, World Record holder and Olympic champion Adam Peaty of Great Britain trained with Williamson early this year when Peaty spent a stint on the Gold Coast.

Australia also made some noise in the women’s breaststroke event this evening.

In the B-final of the 100m, 19-year-old Ella Ramsay busted out a new lifetime best of 1:07.77 to top the field. The Chandler teen split 31.85/35.92 to come out on top, dropping nearly a second off of her previous best-ever result of 1:08.63. That slower mark came at this year’s World Championships Trials.

20-year-old Aussie teammate Tara Kinder also scored a new PB in that race, producing 1:08.49 to slice .30 off of her prior best time of 1:08.79 logged 2 years ago.

Finally, Matilda Smith popped a time of 1:07.72 to place 6th in the A-Final, dropping her best-ever down from 1:08.67.

Although the Swimming Australia QT for Paris sits at a still-distant 1:06.31, these women’s results are promising in a time when the nation desperately needs a breaststroker both on an individual level but primarily for the medley relay.

Both mainstays Chelsea Hodges and Jenna Strauch were out of this year’s World Championships due to injuries and are still training back to form.

The duo has played key roles in the Aussies’ medley relays in the past and their absences left Abbey Harkin to fulfill the role in 2023.

Harkin split 1:07.07 on the women’s medley relay this summer and, although the Aussies still snagged silver, her outing was well off 1:05.99 performance Strauch put up a year earlier in Budapest and the 1:05.57 Hodges logged in Tokyo at the Olympic Games.

Hodges, who owns a flat start lifetime best of 1:05.99 from 2 years ago, was just 1:08.24 to place 8th in tonight’s final. Strauch owns a PB of 1:06.16 from last year and has a season-best of 1:07.81 from the World Cup Series.

The A-Final of the women’s 100m breast saw Reona Aoki grab the gold in 1:06.24, within striking distance of her season-best of 1:05.98 notched last month at the Tokyo Swimming Center Invitational. She ranks #2 in the world with that time.

Behind Aoki this evening was Singapore’s Letitia Sim, the University of Michigan Wolverine who is redshirting this season to focus on the 2024 Olympic Games.

Sim crushed a personal best of 1:06.36 this evening to overwrite her previous Singaporean nation record of 1:06.86. Her result also dipped under the 1:06.79 World Aquatics Olympic Qualification Time to qualify for Paris. She now ranks 5th in the world this season.

Kanako Watanabe bagged the bronze in 1:07.16, just over the 1:07.06 nabbed at the Japan Adult Swimming Championships which took place earlier this month.

2023-2024 LCM Women 100 Breast

View Top 31»

Additional Day 1 Winners

  • Waka Kobori produced a time of 4:08.62 to win the women’s 400m free, scoring the sole time of the field under 4:10. She was the bronze medalist in this event at this year’s Asian Games, posting a result in Hangzhou of 4:07.81.
  • Natsuki Hiroshita beat out Ai Soma in the women’s 50m fly. The former touched in 26.05 to the latter’s 26.12 while Mizuki Hirai also landed on the podium in 26.22. As a reminder, the Asian Games bronze medalist in this event, Rikako Ikee, is training in Australia and will race at the Queensland Championships this month.
  • The men’s 50m fly saw national record holder Takeshi Kawamoto take the race in 23.26. Aussie Matt Temple was next in 23.40 and Naoki Mizunuma earned bronze in 23.52. Temple also earned the B-Final 100m free victory in a time of 48.83 as only the 3rd swimmer on the night to get under the 49-second barrier.
  • Shogo Takeda hit a time of 15:14.04 to take the top seed of the men’s 1500m freestyle.

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2 months ago

Williamson broke the 50BR Aussie NR in the heats today with 26.51 👏

Stephen J Thomas
2 months ago

Sydney-based Matt Wilson, number three on the 100 Aussie All-time with a 59.17 from 2019, will swim at the Queensland Championships next weekend. I will be interesting if the almost 25-yo, and former world 200 record-holder, will lift his game after a disappointing couple of seasons by his own standards.

2 months ago

Beyond Williamson and Buckingham, other two great results for Aussie Breaststrokers: 1.00.11 by Joshua Yong and 1.00.58 by 20 year-old James Bailey. I suppose that a really great work has been done in this beginning of season by the Aussie breaststrokers technical staff

2 months ago

Remarkable also the 1.00.09 swum by 19 year-old Haig Buckingham, second behind Williamson in the B-final

2 months ago

also it’s great that there’s another breast option for the medley relays

2 months ago

hooray for sim! finally got there

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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