While many in attendance in Hamamatsu were there specifically to see the glory that is Kosuke Kitajima in the breaststroke events, they were treated to an extra surprise when the National swimming hero was defeated in the 200 breaststroke by a country-mate many years his junior. Through the first 100 yards, Kitajima again looked in command of this race, but shortly after the final turn he was overtaken by 21-year old Naoya Tomita. Tomita finished very strong and posted a mark of 2:08.25, which tops Kitajima’s mark from Pan Pac’s last year as the fastest ever in textile.
Needless to say, his time is the best in the world this year, and the meet was a true demonstration of the Japanese depth in breaststroke events, as they posted 3 out of the world’s 4 best times this year. Kitajima, after carrying a lead through 150 meters, fell over a second back to touch in 2:09.26. This means that a 2:09.94 from Kazuki Otsuka, who would’ve likely finaled, will be left home on the short hop to Shanghai this summer.
But this wasn’t the only fast race on the third day of competition. All competitors in the field really stepped up their game to put an exclamation mark on an excellent weekend of swimming.
A National Record went to women’s 100 fly champ Yuka Katou, who touched in 57.80 to slice a tenth off of her 2008 National Record. That time ranks her 7th in the world this year, and in fact her 50-split (26.68) also ranks in the top 15 in the world. The runner-up in this race was 15-year old Rino Hosoda, who touched in a great 58.88. This leaves her among the top-5 fastest teenagers in the world this year.
Not to be outdone, Takuro Fujii took a perch second in the world behind Michael Phelps in the men’s 100 fly with a mark of 51.84. This places him about half-a-second outside of his Asian Record mark from 2009, no longer standing, but still a personal best that he will hope to break in Shanghai.
Others to just barely miss National Records included Aya Terakawa in the women’s 50 backstroke (27.79, best in the world this year), Yayoi Matsumoto in the women’s 50 free (25.18), and Kenta Ito in the men’s 50 free (22.18, 8th in the world).
There was one other great swim on Sunday from Satomi Suzuki, who had an outstanding meet in a clean-sweep of the breaststroke races (including setting the 50-meter record on day 2). She didn’t approach the 2:20 Japanese mark on day 3, but she did post a 2:24.36 that sits behind only the great Rebecca Soni, the World Record holder Annamay Pierse, and (just barely) a pair of Chinese swimmers as the 5th-best time in the world this year.
On a positive note, I was able to track down full ENGLISH versions of the results, so if you’re interested in seeing the full output, check them out here.