Ippei Watanabe Puts Up Another Sub-2:08 2Breast To Close Out Japan Open



Rika Omoto, the 19-year-old who already won the 100m freestyle gold here in Tokyo, took the women’s 50m freestyle tonight in a time of 25.03. That was just .01 shy of the 25.02 she produced at the 1st World Championships qualifying meet, the Japan Swim, which took place in April.

Chihiro Igarashi touched the wall less than .2 back in 25.19 tonight for runner-up, while Aya Sato produced a mark of 25.26 for bronze.

The trio of women needed at least a time of 24.12 to make the Gwangju roster in this event individually, so Japan will be without a qualifier in this race at the World Championships this summer.


Despite clocking a new Japanese National Record and Asian Continental Record of 21.67 in semi-finals at the Japan Swim back in April, Shinri Shioura was unable to replicate that performance in the finals at that meet. As such, he was in the hunt for the 21.44 QT needed to make the Gwangju roster in the event, a humongous task for any swimmer, let alone one from Japan, a nation still evolving when it comes to sprints.

Shioura put up a valiant effort this evening, touching the wall in 21.91 to represent the only swimmer under the 22-second threshold tonight. That beat out Syunichi Nakao, who finished with the silver in 22.14, while visiting Taiwanese swimmer Wu Chun Feng earned his very first international medal at 28 years of age, with 22.21 for bronze. You can read more about Wu’s effort here.

Former National Record holder in this event, Katsumi Nakamura, wound up off the podium tonight in 4th, clocking 22.26.


Putting up a new personal best in the women’s 200m back for gold was 19-year-old Rio ShiraiShirai already won the women’s 200m freestyle here and followed up with a big-time swim in the 200m back, clocking 2:08.88 for the gold.

That obliterates her time from Aprils’ Japan Swim, where the teen clocked a wining time of 2:09.58 to also represent the only sub-2:10 swimmer of that race as well.

Shriai’s performance beat out the next closest competitor, Natsumi Sakai, by well over a second, with Sakai touching in 2:10.08. Marina Furubayashi rounded out the top 3 in 2:10.30.

The sub-2:09 outing from Shirai tonight now checks her in as the 10th fastest Japanese female performer ever in the event. It also inserts the swimmer into the season’s world rankings at #11.

Despite these accolades, however, Shirai’s time falls painstakingly shy of the 2:08.76 needed to qualify individually in this event for Japan in Gwangju.

2018-2019 LCM WOMEN 200 BACK

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Olympic veteran Ryosuke Irie doubled up on his 100m back victory from earlier in the meet with another win in his specialty 200m back event tonight. Stopping the clock at 1:56.82, Irie was outside his 1:55.70 from April, but still stellar enough to clear the field by well over a second.

Yuuma Edo took silver tonight in 1:58.05, while Korean national record holder, Lee Juho finished with the bronze in a mark of 1:59.49.


Firing off a new lifetime best in the women’s 100m fly tonight was IM queen Yui Ohashi. The 23-year-old is proving her versatility more and more, having won the 200m fly already here, while also owning the 200m and 400m IM races.

Ohashi’s personal best in the 100 fly entering this meet was the 57.94 produced at the 2018 edition of the Japan Open. Flash forward to tonight, however, and the two-time Pan Pas champion split 27.38/30.45 to wind up with the gold in 57.83. That mark scorched the field, with the next closest competitor represented by Ai Soma and her silver medal-garnering swim of 58.37.

For Ohashi, her 57.83 time tonight came within .4 of the 57.45 needed to qualify in teh race for this summer’s World Championships. A tremendous feat for the woman who can also throw down a 4:33 400m IM.

Her time tonight keeps Ohashi in slot #4 among the all-time Japanese performer list in the 100m fly event and moves her to 16th in the world this season.


Singaporean Olympic champion in the event, Joseph Schooling, already won silver in the 50m fly here at the 2019 Japan Open in Tokyo and wound up scratching the 200m fly. The former Longhorn has said in the past that he’s essentially done with the event, so his scratch wasn’t really a surprise.

Tonight, Schooling beat out the field in the 100 fly sprint, landing on top of the podium in a time of 52.00. Although that mark beat out his 52.70 that won gold at the Singapore National Age Group Championships in March, it falls well outside his 51.04 mark that won gold at the 2018 Asian Games.

Given that Schooling has already qualified for the World Championships, this is most likely an ‘in-season’ meet for the 23-year-old Olympian.

Behind Schooling this evening was the home country’s Naoki Mizunuma, the man who won this event at April’s Japan Swim. There, Mizunuma clocked a big-time swim of 51.43 to land himself on the Gwangju roster for the men’s medley relay and individual swim.

Tonight, Mizunuma clocked 52.09 for silver, while Yuuya Tanaka earned bronze in 52.16. Of note, however, Mizunuma was under 52 seconds in this morning’s prelims, producing a tie of 51.77 to take the top seed.

Well off the podium tonight were Seto and Milak, who touched in respective times of 52.37 and 52.50. The men finished in 6th and 7th places in this event, the secondary fly race to their main focus of the 200m.


The women’s 200m breaststroke podium tonight saw 22-year-old Olympian Kanako Watanabe in tears, as the ace’s winning time of 2:23.65 fell short of World Championships qualification. Watanabe’s 2:23.65 outing beat out her 2:24.28 gold effort from April’s Japan Swim, but wasn’t enough to clear the 2:23.33 standard needed for Gwangju.

Watanabe won the 200m breast gold at the 2015 edition of the World Championships in Kazan. Her time tonight ranks her just outside the women’s top 10 performers in the world this season.

The women’s 100m breaststroke winner and World Championships qualifier here, Reona Aoki, touched in 2:25.31 for silver, while Shiori Asaba hit the wall in 2:25.40 for bronze.


Producing the sole World Championships-worthy time tonight, as far as the stiff Japanese selection criteria goes, was reigning 200m breaststroke World Record holder Ippei Watanabe. The 22-year-old cranked out a mark of 2:07.87 to crush another sub-2:08 outing this year, pairing with his 2:07.02 from the Japan Swim.

Syoma Satou was next in line in 2:09.42, while Kazuki Kohinata was also under the 2:10 threshold in 2:09.91.

Of note, Pan Pacs champion in this event Yasuhiro Koseki, had a lackluster morning swim that saw him finish in 17th place overall in 2:12.95. He was 2:09.96 in April.

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2 years ago

It’s gonna be a sick showdown between Watanabe and Chupkov this summer

2 years ago

Once again Japan sets ridiculously stupid times to qualify for the biggest meet before their hometown Olympic Games and will have a team of 10 athletes at Worlds. Great job Swim Japan (sarcasm). Hint: The US and AUS don’t set tome standards and are the best two swim countries in the world. Why follow France and Britain’s idea? Like Forrest says, “Can’t fix stupid”.

Reply to  Snarky
2 years ago

Australia does I think. And I think a couple of events next eeek at their trials won’t get any qualifiers .m

Reply to  Samesame
2 years ago

indeed , thats right

Sprite Sprit
2 years ago

Thought the 18-year-old’s 2:09.42 in 200 BR is very fast and maybe their Age Group National record, but then realized there is Akihiro Yamaguchi’s 2:07.01 set in 2012 after he missed the Olympic Roster.

Samuel Huntington
2 years ago

21.44 for the 50 is absolutely ridiculous.

Reply to  Samuel Huntington
2 years ago

And 24.12 for women…

Philip Johnson
Reply to  Samuel Huntington
2 years ago

Yup, how many people in the world can go that? Less than 10?

Samuel Huntington
Reply to  Philip Johnson
2 years ago

Well, this is who can do it I think – Dressel, Fratus, Proud, Morozov, Andrew. Not sure if anyone else can. And the Italian but I guess he’s suspended for weed right now.

Ol’ Gator
2 years ago

Not too bad of a time for schooling

2 years ago

Qualification Times are too hard

2 years ago

These standards are dumb

Reply to  Yolo
2 years ago

totally stupid ! what are they thinking while creating them ? to break down the swimmers or be well prepared for Tokyo ?

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Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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