After a somewhat disappointing meet overall at the World Cup stop in Beijing last week, Tokyo showed a much stronger hand on the penultimate stop of the 2014 FINA World Cup series.
The swimmers who carried over from last week performed much better at the Tatsumi International Swim Center, and there was more depth in general at this meet – including Thomas Fraser-Holmes’ return to the fray, and the addition of the U.S. junior squad who earned their spots here by being ranked in the top 75 (boys) or top 50 (girls) in the world.
Given how fast the Japanese team usually is in-season, one might expect them to dominate here at home. While they did have some good swims, in general they were not as impressive as the team has shown in prior years’ World Cup meets.
Full meet results can be found here.
Women’s 800 Free – Timed Final
After Hungarian Katinka Hosszu won in Beijing, the 800 free flipped back to Spain’s Mireia Belmonte-Garcia in Tokyo, where she swam an 8:08.57 for her 4th win in this event in 6 stops on this year’s series.
The two were nearly stroke-for-stroke the entire way, with the exception that at the 600 meter mark, Belmonte made just a little bit of a surge that was good enough to give her the lead for good.
American Elizabeth Beisel took 3rd in 8:19.32 to finish on the podium for the second time in her World Cup career and to bring her season winnings up to $1,000.
Erin Early, a part of the USA Swimming junior team, finished 14th in 8:38.83, and YMCA National Champion Erin Voss took 18th in 8:48.49.
Men’s 400 IM – Timed Final
Japan’s Daiya Seto won his second-straight World Cup race in the men’s 400 IM, but this time it wasn’t a watered-down victory.
Swimming back in his home country, Seto broke the four-minute mark with a 3:59.91 to beat out Australian Thomas Fraser-Holmes. Fraser-Holmes skipped the meet in Beijing, but earlier this year in Dubai set the World Cup Record in the 400 IM.
Here in Tokyo, he held even with Seto until the breaststroke leg, and while Fraser-Holmes’ breaststroke has improved recently, it was still no match for Ser who opened up a five-second gap.
Hungarian Gergeley Gyurta also improved drastically since last week, swimming a 4:06.10 for 3rd place. That’s three seconds better than he was last week, and he had to be better with a much deeper field that included Takeharu Fujimori (4:06.86).
The top American finisher was junior Sean Grieshop, who placed 6th in 4:09.58.
Men’s 100 free – FINAL
The most disappointing result of the meet, for time, was the men’s 100 free, which was without Chad le Clos for the first time in this series. Le Clos had previously won every stop on this year’s tour in this event.
It did pick up another superstar in Japan’s Kosuke Hagino, but he was just 5th in 47.57.
The times were flat, however, the racing was at least competitive. The win went to Katsumi Nakamura with a 47.30, and Russia’s Sergei Fesikov (47.31) and Germany’s Steffen Deibler (47.35) were just behind him. Japan’s Kenta Ito placed 4th in 47.53 follower by Hagino and Shinri Shioura (47.74).
Canadian Yuri Kisil, who is annointed as the future of Canadian male sprinting, was 7th in 48.50 as he continues to build his international resume; Britain’s Ben Proud was just 8th in 49.40.
Women’s 200 Free – Final
Katinka Hosszu picked up her first win of the 2014 Tokyo stop, and 111th win of her World Cup career, in the women’s 200 free with a 1:52.45. That keeps her perfect streak alive in this event this year and is the fastest she’s swum the 200 free in since the Hong Kong stop back in late September (the third on the tour).
Hosszu was forced to show her hand a little more here with Australian National Teamer Emma McKeon hot on her heels. Hosszu led the whole way, but McKeon kept it tight before falling just off in 1:53.15.
The first American junior to make a podium was Katie Drabot in this 200 free with a 1:54.45. That actually makes her the 9th-fastest American performer in short course meters of all-time.
Britain’s Siobhan-Marie O’Connor was 4th in 1:55.02, and the top home-country swimmer was Chihiro Igarashi in 5th with a 1:55.59.
Men’s 50 Breaststroke – Final
After a very competitive 50 breaststroke battle in Beijing, South African Roland Schoeman turned on the burners in Tokyo to win with relative ease in 26.02.
That’s the fastest time at a World Cup so far this season, and was good enough for Schoeman to beat out Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta (26.60).
A relative unknown took bronze: Japan’s Ryouta Nomura posted a 26.84 to beat out Trinidadian veteran George Bovell (26.85).
Women’s 100 Breaststroke – Final
In a little bit of an upset, World Cup veteran Alia Atkinson (1:02.86) beat out World Record holder Ruta Meilutyte (1:03.72) and also came within half-a-second of her Lithuanian opponent’s World Record.
Atkinson sprinted out to an early lead, which is not easy to do on the ever-daring Meilutyte. Despite her early effort, Atkinson was able to extend her lead by another half-a-second ont he back-half for a comfortable win.
American Katie Meili took 3rd in 1:05.01, and Australia’s Sally Hunter was 4th in 1:05.67.
Japan’s Rie Kaneto, who actually won this race at the Moscow stop, was only 6th on Tuesday with a 1:06.24. American Breeja Larson was 8th in 1:06.35.
Women’s 100 Fly – Final
After losing her first (and to this point only) World Cup race of the season in any event while swimming this 100 fly in Beijing, the Netherlands’ Inge Dekker was back on track with a 56.11 for victory in Tokyo. That’s another link an an incredible chain of consistency for Dekker. This was her slowest winning time of the season so far, but it did leave her spread still at less than a tenth-of-a-second.
- Doha – 56.05
- Dubai – 56.03
- Hong Kong – 56.03
- Moscow – 56.08
- Beijing – 56.03
- Tokyo – 56.11
Katinka Hosszu was 2nd in 56.94, and Felicia Lee, in her first season as an NCAA postgraduate (and therefore able to accept prize money) was 3rd in 57.04.
Australians McKeon and Marieke D’Cruz were 4th and 5th, respectively, in 57.26 and 57.40.
Men’s 100 Backstroke – Final
After a very quiet stop in Beijing, American Eugene Godsoe was back on top of the podium here in Tokyo by winning the 100 back in 50.49. That’s his first 100 backstroke win of this year’s World Cup and his third event victory overall (he won the 50 in both Doha and Dubai: the meet’s first two stops).
To earn this victory, Godsoe had to beat out Japan’s Ryosuke Irie, one of the most consistent swimmers in the history of the sport. He was 2nd in 50.53, and an on-fire Australian Mitch Larkin took 3rd in 50.59.
Miguel Ortiz was back on home turf, sort of, swimming this race. He lives and trains in the United States, and represents Spain internationally, but attended high school in Japan.
Women’s 50 Back – Final
The substantial British squad at this meet struck their first blood with a 26.42 win from Fran Halsall in the women’s 50 meter backstroke. That breaks the British Record in the event that had been held by Lizzie Simmonds at 26.45.
Felicia Lee hit a podium in her second-straight women’s event with a 26.47 for 2nd place, and Brazil’s Etiene Medeiros was 3rd in 26.56.
British swimmer Georgia Davies (26.77), Australia’s Madison Wilson (26.81), Hungarian Katinka Hosszu (26.90), and the old British Record holder Simmonds (26.96) rounded out the top 7.
Men’s 200 Fly – Final
Making his first finals appearance of the day, South African Chad le Clos, who is the points leader on the male side of the series, swam a scorching 1:49.20 to win the men’s 200 fly. That’s the 5th-fastest performance of all-time in the race (of which he now holds four).
Also moving into the top 10 of all-time, though, was Japan’s Daiya Seto (1:49.68). He continued to capture the early quality we saw from him at this meet and really only lose Le Clos’ draft in this race over the last 50 – the two were never separated by more than two-tenths until the final touch.
Japan’s Masato Sakai was 3rd in 1:52.88, and Japan had all of the finalists aside from le Clos.
Women’s 200 IM – Final
Katinka Hosszu picked up just her 2nd win of the day with a 2:05.18 in the women’s 200 IM. That put a full second between her and American runner-up Caitlin Leverenz (2:06.15).
Hosszu, as one would expect, raced out to an early lead – turning 1.7 seconds ahead of Leverenz (who was in only 4th at that point). While Leverenz’s front-half on her IM’s has drastically improved in the last two years, Hosszu is still the best in the world there.
The American narrowed the gap to half-a-second after the breaststroke, but would get no closer as Hosszu’s iron will pulled away for victory.
Britain’s O’Connor took 3rd in 2:07.21 and Japan’s Kanako Watanabe was 5th in 2:08.50. The other American finalist, Elizabeth Beisel, was 5th in 2:08.55.
Men’s 400 Free – Final
Another South African Myles Brown stood atop the men’s 400 free podium after running away with a 3:37.96 victory. Brown is not as well-known as his teammate Le Clos, especially in this World Cup circuit, but he’s been rising for a while now and we could see him in finals in Kazan next year.
Another young swimmer aiming for Worlds finals, James Guy, was 2nd in 3:50.82, able to hold of Fraser-Holmes (3:41.30) for the silver.
A second Australia David McKeon took 4th in 3:41.48, and the World Cup Record holder Paul Biedermann was just 6th in 3:42.26.
Canada’s Ryan Cochrane slid to 8th in 3:45.90 – only slightly faster than his prelims swim.
Women’s 50 Free – Final
Fran Halsall didn’t put much scare into another National Record in the women’s 50 free, but she did manage to knock off the blazing-hot Inge Dekker for a win, 23.80-23.89. This is another event in which Dekker has been perfect this year, and for that matter this was even her best time of the season despite the placing.
3rd-place went to Australian Marieke Guehrer in 24.42, and Japan’s Miki Uchida just missed the podium in 24.43. That was, however, a new Japanese National Record, breaking her own 24.69.
Men’s 200 Breaststroke – Final
Swimming in his best event, and event where he’s probably the best there’s ever been relative to place and time, Daniel Gyurta won the men’s 200 breaststroke with some ease in 2:02.12. He made his big move on the third 50 to really open up a gap between himself and Japan’s Yasuhiro Koseki (2:03.38).
Another Japanese swimmer, Ippei Watanabe, was 3rd in 2:04.46, and Japan once again held all of the finals spots aside from the winner.
Men’s 100 IM – Final
Kosuke Hagino showed that he wasn’t entirely a lost cause at this meet by swimming a 52.03 to win the men’s 100 IM ahead of a tie for 2nd between Hiromasa Fujimori and Sergei Fesikov in 52.20.
George Bovell, who’s been a ficture on the World Cup 100 IM podium for years, was just 5th in 52.89. He still has the fastest time on the circuit so far this year and is the only swimmer in the world under 52 seconds this season.
Women’s 200 Back – Final
A solid win number three for Hosszu came in the women’s 200 backstroke where she swam a 2:01.97, again showing off her endurance by pulling away from Madison Wilson (2:02.87) in the last 50.
That time is within a second of Hosszu’s National Record in the event, set earlier this year.
Japan’s Sayaka Akase was 3rd in 2:04.34 and Spain’s best Duane da Rocha was 4th in 2:05.01. The three North American finalists occupied the 5th-7th place positions, led by the youngest Kathleen Baker in 2:05.69. Elizabeth Beisel was 6th in 2:05.77 and Canadian HIlary Caldwell was 7th in 2:06.14.
Men’s 50 Fly – Final
It was a light day for Chad le Clos, but still quite a profitable day, as he won a second event in the men’s 50 fly, swimming 22.20.
That’s close to the National Record in South Africa, but still about three-tenths shy of the mark done in 2009 by Roland Schoeman. Schoeman was 2nd here in 22.66, and Germany’s Steffen Deibler was 3rd in 22.72.
Another American venturing into the World Cup waters this year is Giles Smith. He was just 5th here in Tokyo with a 22.92, after being about a tenth better for bronze, and a $500 check, in Beijing. Eugene Godsoe was 6th in 22.98.
Mixed 200 Medley Relay – Timed Final
There wasn’t much excitement in the mixed 200 medley final; the top four places were all Japanese club relays, and none approached any significant records.
The top relay was Shiho Sakai, Yasuhiro Koseki, Kenta Ito, and Yayoi Matsumoto in 1:40.51, representing Mikihouse. The top non-Japanese relay was the American combination of Felicia Lee, Katie Meili, Alex Valente, and Giles Smith that rode in last place for most of the meet before finishing 5th on a strong 21.30 anchor for Smith.