Hagino Breaks Two Japanese Records; Women Start Slow But Finish Strong on Day 3 of Japanese Nationals

The 2014 Japanese National Championships in Tokyo saw their 3rd day on Saturday. While this day was more up-and-down than the first two, a pair of Japanese Records (one of which was also an Asian Record) from Kosuke Hagino left excitement in the air at the Tatsumi International Swim Center.

A reminder of the Pan Pacs qualifying standards can be found here.

Women’s 800 Free – FINALS

The Japanese women lost a lot of momentum at the end of Friday’s finals session, where they had only a single qualifier in the last two individual events of the day.

When Saturday’s finals rolled around, things didn’t look much better, though the opening women’s 800 free wasn’t a total loss. There, Chida Asami won in 8:36.92 to be the lone qualifier for Pan Pacs. Of course, an 8:36 really isn’t much of a time, however it is two seconds faster than she was to win this race last year, and most of the field was faster than last year.

Last year’s top 4: 38/43/44/46
This year’s top 4: 36/40/43/43

It’s really quite strange what has happened to this Japanese women’s distance group since 2012. At Japan’s 2012 Olympic Trials, an 8:36 would’ve only placed 8th, as compared to this year where it won. It’s not as though that top 7 in 2012 were old – nobody in that race is older than 24 right now (and a couple are still teenagers), yet the quality just has disappeared.

Women’s 50 Back – FINALS

The 2nd race of the night was also a women’s race, and much as they struggled in the 100 back on Friday, this 50 wasn’t much better. Miyuki Takemura won in 28.32, followed by 36-year old Noriko Inada (28.42) and Emi Mornuki (28.57).

Unfortunately, none of those top three swimmers were under the qualifying standard, so none have initially qualified for Pan Pacs. At this point of Saturday’s session, the last four women’s races had seen only two qualifiers, which is contrast to the nearly-full lineups earlier in the meet.

Men’s 50 Back – FINALS

Things really started to take off on Saturday evening when two of Japan’s all-time great backstrokers went 1-2 in the men’s 50 backstroke. Junya Koga took the gold in 24.68 and Ryosuke Irie took 2nd in 24.86, both of which fall under the qualifying standard.

That’s a second solid backstroke swim for Irie in this meet, and with how fast Kosuke Hagino has looked in the longer races this week (more on him later in this session), the 200 could be the battle-of-the-meet.

Men’s 400 Free – FINALS

Speaking of Kosuke Hagino, he began his day with a 3:43.90 in the men’s 400 freestyle, which earns him plenty of superlatives and accolades. For starters, it launches him to 2nd in the World Rankings this year. That’s a World Ranking that so far looks as though it might be a gauntlet over the summer for Hagino, as most of the top 10 (with two Brits being the exception) will race at the Pan Pacs.

2014 LCM Men 400 Free TYR World Ranking

View Top 51»

What’s more, that’s a new Japanese National Record, breaking his own 3:44.82 set at the World Championships last summer. Hagino’s versatility is just incredible.

He was way out in front of the field in this one, turning in 1:51.50 en route to that swim. That 200-meter split is actually very similar to the split of James Guy, who broke the British Record on Thursday. Those two won’t get to match up this summer, but if these two swims were superimposed upon each other, they’d look something like this:

  • Guy (Britain): 54.02 — 1:51.87 — 2:49.06 == 3:45.15
  • Hagino (Japan): 53.66 — 1:51.50 — 2:48.47 == 3:43.90

Guy really did good work on the back half of his 400, which highlights just how fast Hagino came home in this race.

Women’s 200 Fly – FINALS

The Japanese women sprang to life in the 200 fly; according to our World Rankings editor Shannon MacDonald, the entire A and B finals jumped into the World’s top 50 after this event.

At the top of that heap was a 2:05.98 from Natsumi Hoshi, that jumped her to the head of the World Rankings in 2014. There’s still a few swimmers around with championships yet to go (the Chinese at their Nationals, Katinka Hosszu at Maria Lenk in a week) who could unseat her before the big international meets start this summer, but that’s a good leadup swim for Hoshi going into Pan Pacs. She typically hits the second taper very well.

2014 LCM Women 200 Fly TYR World Ranking

View Top 51»

In 2nd place was 14-year old Haruno Itou in 2:09.88. The young swimmer was behind Hoshi most of the way, but put in context of her age, she had a very good first 150 meters before falling off on the home-stretch. She’s got a bright, bright future ahead of her.

Yai Watanabe took 3rd in 2:10.19, followed by Kona Fujita in 2:10.33.

Men’s 200 Fly – FINALS

Daiya Seto won the men’s 200 fly in 1:54.84 with a come-from-behind victory over Kenta Hirai (1:55.27). Those two will both move into the top 5 in the world rankings as well.

Hirai led almost this entire race, until the last 30 meters or so where Seto surged passed him

Placing 3rd was Masato Sakai in 1:56.26, and Kou Fukaya was 4th in 1:56.35.

In a continuing theme of this men’s meet, the young is pushing out the veterans in Japanese swimming (don’t be surprised if we see a mass retirement in Japan this summer). The two-time Olympic bronze medalist Takeshi Matsuda, now 29-years old, took 5th in 1:56.94. That’s still a very good time (he might even have made the U.S. Worlds team with it last summer), but the depth in front of him isn’t going anywhere.

Women’s 200 IM – FINALS

Kanako Watanabe looked great in the 100 breaststroke final earlier in this meet, but that hasn’t hindered her transition over to a world-class IM’er, either. The 17-year old won the 200 IM in 2:11.04, beating out Miho Teramura, who was 2:11.62.

This was a fun race to watch, as the two are very similar IM’ers. Teramura is a little bit better on the backstroke, Watanabe is a little bit better on the breaststroke, but despite the back-and-forth, nobody made much headway until the closing freestyle leg.

Both they and 3rd-place finish Sakiko Shimizu (winner of the 400 IM) in 2:12.87 were under the Pan Pacs qualifying standard. Miho Takahashi took 4th in 2:12.95, and 14-year old Hiroko Makino was 5th in 2:13.24 – which is a new Japanese Age Record.

Men’s 200 IM – FINALS

Closing the session with not just an exclamation but a thunderbolt, Kosuke Hagino won the men’s 200 IM in a new Japanese and Asian Record of 1:55.38. That improves upon his 1:55.74 that he swam to win this race last year.

As discussed on Thursday after a great 400 IM swim, though, Hagino struggled in this 200 IM to improve last year after the Japanese Championships as well, so a challenge still remains even though he looks like a favorite for gold at the Pan Pac Championships.

Hiromasa Fujimori took 2nd in 1:57.77, and Daiya Seto took 3rd in 1:57.92.

Full meet results after 3 days are available here. Note that they are in reverse order of event swim.

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Hagino showing he is the best overall swimmer of the world right now..

But braden.. the ranking is incorrect.. it is 3:43:90.. on the ranking it was written 3:42.. he stands behind McKeon

Amazing 200 fly by Seto..

Tomorrow wanna see how good Imai can go at 200 breast..

REALLY don’t think anybody can say Hagino is the best in the world right now when we haven’t seen anything from America long course just yet.

bobo gigi

Hagino is very impressive but if he wants to win world or olympic gold medals, he has to lighten his line-up and focus on the 200 IM/400 IM double.

Philip Johnson

His times in the 200 and 400 free aren’t far off to making the medal podium. I say he sticks to his program, it’s amazing to watch.


But doing 400 free on the same day of 400 IM would hurt him bad… and he would probably not win either if he tries that.. better one gold than 2 silvers..


If Rio schedule follows London, this is the schedule that Hagino may pursue if he does not greedy (I’d still do away with 200 free but Hagino will surely swim the prestigious event at the Olympics): Day 1: 400 IM and should regretfully do away with 400 free. His chances to win 400 IM is better than 400 free. Not saying Kalisz etc will be easy who will be very very tough, but at least will be roughly equal. Sun Yang is a different animal. You’ve won 400 free worlds silver, it’s time to win 400 IM gold at the big meet. Day 2 and 3: 200 free over 100 back (unless he gets greedy again and swim both in… Read more »

bobo gigi

I 100% agree with you.


That mostly makes sense… 4IM, 200fr, 2IM as an Olympic schedule. A couple minor quibbles: #1 – He may try the 100 Bk~200 Fr double. If he is going to double up any day, that makes a lot more sense than the 2Bk-2IM double. Plus, swimming the 100 Bk gives him a shot at the medley relay, where Japan maya have a serious medal chance. #2 – I don’t think Sun Yang is a lock for the 400 free, in 2015 or 2016. This is a side point because I think Hagino has a better shot at the IM, but the 400 free is a very tough race to maintain dominance in. Mack Horton, James Guy, and a few others… Read more »

Philip Johnson

Hagino is F’ing ridiculous! A 3:43 400 free and then a 1:55 200 IM! What?!

Add that to his 1:45 200 free, a 53 100 back, & 4:07 400 IM!

Move over Lochte, there’s a new multi-event king in town. Haven’t seen this much versatility in a swimmer since Phelps. wow.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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