The swimming portion of the 2013 East Asian Games, with a few stars in attendance from China and Japan, began on Thursday in Tianjian. There were no really spectacular swims, though China put in a solid team performance in winning 5 of the day’s 7 events.
Chinese Olympian Jin Zhao got her meet off to a good start by winning the women’s 50 breaststroke in 31.69, followed by her teammate Yuzhe He in 32.09.
Japan’s Maya Hamano got her country on the board with a 32.11 for 3rd-place, while current Cal junior Yvette Kong took 5th for Hong Kong in 32.67.
China’s Anqi Bai took the next race, the women’s 200 backstroke, with a 2:12.70. She built in a very good back-half to her swim, though Korea’s Dasol Im pushed her the whole way to touch 2nd in 2:13.30. Korea usually winds up 3rd at this meet in the medals table (they didn’t win a single gold in 2009), but with Japan having a much weaker men’s team in 2013, the Koreans could be due for a big haul. Japan kept pace by taking 3rd in 2:13.49.
Japan, though thinner than normal, did get two the other two, non-Chinese wins on the meet’s first day. Yushiro Koseki won the men’s 100 breaststroke in 1:00.52, followed by his teammate Ryota Nomura in 1:01.10. China’s Biaorong Gu took 3rd in 1:02.24 in a race that, top-to-bottom, wasn’t as good as we saw four years ago.
China’s Tang Yi, who after winning Olympic bronze in the 100 but winding up only 7th at Worlds, had probably the best swim of day 1 to win the women’s 100 free in 54.66. She won this race, as she likes to do, with a strong back-half to overcome 15-year old teammate Yuhan Qiu who was a 54.77. Tang rose to national and international prominence at about the same age as Qiu, who was on the Chinese Olympic Team in the 400 free relay at just past her 14th birthday.
Siobhan Haughey of Hong Kong, the Junior World Champion, took 3rd in 55.06.
In the men’s 200 IM, China’s Feilian Mao won in 1:58.82. That’s his best time by almost a second, though he’s primarily a breaststroker, so this is a very strong swim for him and bumps him into the top 30 in the world in 2013. Hopefully we’ll see more of him in this race next year.
Japan’s Hiromasa Fujimori took 2nd in 1:59.29, and China’s Wang Shun, the National Record holder, was 3rd in just 1:59.32.
In the men’s 200 fly, Ko Fukaya took the other Japanese gold medal with a 1:57.81 for the win. He came back hard on the last 50 to just out-touch China’s Chen Yin by .02 seconds for that win.
In the session-closing 800 free relay, China won in 7:15.25, but nearly gave up a significant lead on the anchor leg, as 22-year old Chiaki Ishibashi from Japan split 1:47.90 to almost run down Wang Shun, but Japan came up just short in 7:15.48.
Korea was 3rd in 7:27.26.