Frustration Reigns On Final Day Of 2016 Japanese Olympic Trials

Retta Race
by Retta Race 15

April 10th, 2016 News



  • Japanese National Record – 14:54.80, Kohei Yamamoto (2014)
  • JPN OLY Standard – 14:55.30
  • The Podium –
    • Kohei Yamamoto, 14:57.12
    • Ayatsugu Hirai, 15:02.25
    • Atsuya Yoshida, 15:10.41

Leading the field tonight in the longest men’s event was Japanese National Record Holder Kohei Yamamoto. The 24-year-old stopped the clock at 14:57.12 to earn the gold in the only sub-15-minute mark of the field, less than 3 seconds off of his own record he set in 2014.

With his performance in Tokyo tonight, Yamamoto now ranks as the 5th-fastest man in the world this season. Yet, even with this impressive outing that would have placed 5th overall at last year’s FINA World Championships, Yamamoto missed the Japanese Olympic-qualifying standard of 14:55.30. As such, unless a subjective decision is made by the Japanese Swimming Federation, Yamamoto will not be contesting this men’s 1500m freestyle event in Rio.

2015-2016 LCM Men 1500 Free

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  • Japanese National Record – 21.88, Shinri Shioura (2014)
  • JPN OLY Standard – 21.87
  • The Podium –

The sad story of having no Olympic qualifiers in an event continued into the men’s splash n’ dash, as no competitor tonight was able to cut a time beneath the 22 second threshold. With the Japanese Olympic standard of 21.87 sitting as an even faster mark than the Japanese National Record (21.88), anything short of a monster swim wouldn’t make it to Brazil.

Such was the case with Katsumi Nakamura, who doubled up on his earlier 100m freestyle win by taking the 50m freestyle as well. Nakamura clinched gold in 22.09, but was well off the aforementioned necessary mark to make it to Rio. The situation was the same in Nakamura’s 100m freestyle as well, where, despite earning a new National Record 48.25, he was short of the stricter Japanese-dictated OLY standard of 48.16.

Also missing the mark was the Japanese National Record Holder in this event, Shinri Shioura. Altough his 22.14 outing was swift enough for 2nd place, it wasn’t sub-22 or even near the qualifying standard, so Shioura will be left off the roster.

Barring any subjective decision by the Japanese Swimming Federation, despite proving that they are slowly but surely making a move towards being internationally competitive sprinting-wise, the Japanese men will be without any freestyle sprinters at the 2016 Olympic Games.


  • Japanese National Record – 24.74, Rikako Ikee (2016)
  • JPN OLY Standard – 24.59
  • The Podium –
    • Rikako Ike, 24.76
    • Miki Uchida, 25.19
    • Yayoi Matsumoto, 25.53

The night brightened up a bit in the form of 15-year-old Rikako Ikee. On top of already having won the women’s 100m butterfly in a Rio-qualifying time and also earning silver in the 100m freestyle, Ikee topped off her trio of appearances with a win in this splash n’ dash event.

Ikee owns the World Junior Record in this event with the 24.74 she clocked just this past February at the Konami Open, and the teenager came within just .02 of a second of that mark tonight. Ikee charged to the wall in a time of 24.76, a time which sits right behind her WJR as the 14th-fastest in the world this season.

The women’s 100m freestyle gold medalist here in Tokyo, Miki Uchida, wrangled in a mark of 25.19, while Yayoi Matsumoto stopped the clock at 25.53 for bronze. As such, Ikee was the only female to venture into 24-second territory in the final.

As with the previous 2 events of tonight’s session, the winner fell short of the nation’s Olympic-qualifying standard and, therefore, does not automatically punch a ticket to the Games. In this case, despite being just .02 of a second off of her own National Record and WJR, Ikee wasn’t able to obtain the 24.59 Japanese OLY standard.


  • Japanese National Record – 51.00, Kohei Kawamoto (2009)
  • JPN OLY Standard – 51.64
  • The Podium –
    • Takurou Fujii, 52.03
    • Takeshi Kawamoto, 52.36
    • Takaya Yasue, 52.43

Not improving on the Rio-less night was the fact that tonight’s 100m butterfly gold medalist didn’t delve into 51-second territory.  Takurou Fujii touched the wall in 52.03 to stand atop the podium, but watch his Rio opportunity pass by, as the Japanese Olympic-qualifying standard is positioned at a swift 51.64.

Takeshi Kawamoto dropped a couple of tenths off his semi mark to earn a silver in a time of 52.36 tonight, followed by countrymate Takaya Yasue who improved from 5th after semi’s to bronze with his mark of 52.43.


  • Japanese National Record – 2:07.13, Reiko Nakamura (2008)
  • JPN OLY Standard – 2:08.76
  • The Podium –
    • Natsumi Sakai, 2:10.43
    • Yuka Kawayoke, 2:10.71
    • Mayuko Gotou, 2:10.91

Unfortunately for Japanese swimming fans, the athletes ended the night with an 0 for 5 record in terms of earning Olympic roster berths. As predicted by the looks of the prelims and then semi’s, the Japanese women continued to have a hard time breaking through the 2:10 barrier in this event, let alone come close to the Olympic-qualifying standard of 2:08.76 needed to represent Japan in Rio.

Natsumi Sakai added .43 of a second to her 2:10.00 semi time to register a 2:10.43 for the gold, well short of the 2:08.76 Rio-qualifying standard. The runner-up, Yuka Kawayoke, also added time to her 2:10.48 semi outing, touching in 2:10.71 for silver.

The story was the same for tonight’s bronze medalist, Mayuko Gotou, whose time of 2:10.91 added almost 4 tenths to her morning semi of 2:10.53.

With the rest of the world collecting times in the 2:07/2:08 range with relative ease, paired with the fact that no Japanese woman dropped under a minute in the 100m sprint back event, the backstroke discipline is an area the Japanese must improve upon to keep up with the rest of the globe both individually and within a medley relay capacity.

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Swim boy
5 years ago

Who will swim butterfly for the men’s medley relay then?!

5 years ago

Can anybody tell me what are the measurement tolerances for Olympic swimming pools? I read in one place that it was 3cm and in another +/- 3mm.

If the first is true, then even the 50 free shouldn’t be timed to within 1/100 sec as it would be within the margin of error, given the average speed of the swimmers. If it is the second, then timing to the 1/100 sec becomes suspect with the 200 and the 1500 should be timed to the 1/10.

Reply to  Crawler
5 years ago

I have no real insight, but 3 cm would be a huge difference, so if either of those are true, it’s got to be 3mm.

Reply to  sven
5 years ago

Actually the piece reads 0.03 meter. But even +_ 5mm means a maximum possible difference between two given lane lengths of 1 cm which translates approximately into 0.005 seconds. That’s almost 1/100 margin of error for a 100 and about 2/100 of a sec for a 200.

Unless the touch pads can be finely adjusted for distance from the wall or the times themselves be adjusted for small differences in lane lengths, what’s the point of going to the 1/100 on any race over 200?

bobo gigi
5 years ago

About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

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