Young Japanese superstar Akihiro Yamaguchi, just two days after breaking the 200 breaststroke World Record in 2:07.01, scratched the final of the 100 breaststroke on Monday at the Japanese National Sports Festival. There was little expectation of him breaking the World Record in that event (the strength of his 200 is his closing pace, not his opening speed), but there was still quite a level of excitement surrounding his swims regardless.
That instead left the victory to the much more veteran Koichiro Okazaki in 1:00.76 – his best time of 2012. This gives the Japanese a 5th swimmer under 1:01 in the last year.
Despite the absence of Yamaguchi, there were other strong swims on the final day of competition, specifically with a Meet Record (and nearly National Record) in the men’s 50 freestyle.
In the men’s, Shinri Shioura just missed his own personal best with a 22.16 (shaving .03 off of the old Meet Record). What’s more, he was just a tenth out of Kenta Ito’s 22.05 National Record in the distance that was set last week. With two swimmers having been 22.1’s or better this year, and the overall increase in depth in the men’s sprint freestyles, it’s looking more-and-more like 2013 will be the year where Japan finally sees a 21-second 50 freestyler, especially with Shioura only being 21 years old.
And finally, again despite Yamaguchi’s absence, there was some good young breaststrokers in action on the last day of competition. In the women’s 100 breaststroke race, 16-year olds Kanako Watanabe and Misaki Sekiguchi battled it out, but ultimately it was the Olympian Watanabe who pulled away on the home-stretch for a 1:08.92. Sekiguchi was 2nd in 1:09.88 (in fact, the entire final of this race was made up of 15 and 16 year olds, including three under 1:10).
Full meet results available here: http://swim.seiko.co.jp/2012/S70703/day0.html