Hamamatsu Long Course Championships
- Saturday, January 26th & Sunday, January 27th
- Nishi-ku, Hamamatsu-shi, Shizuoka
The Japanese meets which determine qualifiers for this year’s World Championships may be a couple of months off, but key elite swimmers from the nation swam lights out this weekend. At the Hamamatsu Bay Long Course Championships, National Record holders Daiya Seto and Yui Ohashi were among those who belted out some world ranking shake-ups, with other notables such as Kosuke Hagino also making some waves before all was said and done.
Key Men’s Races
Entering this competition, Seto’s season-best 200m IM time was the 1:57.22 thrown down at the Tokyo Swimming Center Invitational last November. That time ranked among Seto’s own career-fastest efforts, as well as set the bar for the top time in the world this LCM season.
Flash forward to Hamamatsu, however, and the 24-year-old fired off his first sub-1:57 outing since the 2017 World Championships. Seto produced a stellar 1:56.98 to take the gold at this domestic championship and beat out rival Hagino, who had a solid swim himself with a runner-up 1:58.67.
Seto’s effort further sets him apart from the rest of the world as the only sub-1:57 swimmer this season, while Hagino remains the 4th fastest athlete this season, but with his first sub-1:59 outing of 2018/19.
But Seto wasn’t content to rest on his laurels, as the ANA athlete crushed another impressive outing at the meet, this time in the 400m IM. Holding a personal best of 4:07.99, Seto came within just over a second from that mark by clocking a 4:09.25 stunner. Splits aren’t available at this time, but Seto’s time this weekend now inserts itself as the top time in the world by over 6 solid seconds, as well as falls just outside the top 25 performances of all-time in the event.
In fact, Seto’s 4:09.25 is just .11 outside the 4:09.11 he produced at the 2017 World Championships for bronze.
Hagino finished runner-up to Seto again in this event this weekend, registering a time of 4:15.79, good enough to keep the Olympic gold medalist in the event ranked #2 in the world.
In other men’s races, Katsuhiro Matsumoto delved under the 50-second barrier in the men’s 100m free with a winning effort of 49.80, while he also notched gold in the 200m free with a nice 1:47.46. Hagino was also in that men’s 2free race, registering 1:47.83 to fall just shy of the top prize. Both men now enter the list of top 10 times in the world this season.
Takeshi Kawamoto took the men’s 100m fly in 52.17, a time that now checks-in as the 7th fastest in the world. It’s also his personal best by .13.
Key Women’s Races
World Championships medalist Yui Ohashi was on fire as well this weekend, posting a quartet of victories at Hamamatsu Ohashi nailed the winning time in the women’s fly with a 58.83, less than second off of her own season-best of 58.08 from last November.
The 23-year-old also fired off a 2:08.78 200m fly time for the win. She holds a season-best of 2:07.03 that remains ranked #2 in the world this year behind Germany’s Franziska Hentke’s 2:06.50.
In the IM arena, Ohashi swam with abandon, producing a 200m IM winning mark of 2:09.14 and a 400m IM of 4:35.73. Ohashi’s sub-2:10 eye-popper now replaces teammate Rika Omoto’s 2:09.93 as the top time in the world this season.
Her 400m IM was also a solid swim, although Ohashi holds a season-best of 4:32.00 from last November, a time that remains #1 in the world.
Additional notable swims came from Rio Shirai, the 19-year-old rising star who has been making her presence known at domestic competitions as of late. Here in Hamamatsu, Shria took the women’s 100m free in 55.10, the 200m in 1:58.80 and also finished runner-up in the 50m free with a mark of 26.28.
Winning the 50m free was Nagisa Ikemoto, another teenager. At just 16 years of age, Ikemoto took the sprint in 25.86, her first time under the 26-second threshold.
23-year-old Reona Aoki swept the breaststroke events, winning the 50m in 31.21, the 100m in 1:07.18 and the 200m in 2:24.63. Her 100m mark now stands as the 2nd fastest outing in the world this season, while her 200m result places her as the 4th best swimmer on the globe.