Japan Day 4: Seto Secures 2Fly For Worlds, 15 Men Under 50 In 1Free


The Japanese team is still struggling to hit the strict federation-dictated qualification times needed to represent the nation this summer at the 2019 World Championships.

This situation manifested in the women’s 50m backstroke, where 17-year-old Natsumi Sakai took the gold in a time of 28.18, but could only celebrate so much, as the Rio Olympian missed the 27.81 QT. She’ll still have a chance to make the mark next month at the Japan Open Swim.

Runner-up went to Miyuki Takemura in 28.48 and Miki Takahashi rounded out the top 3 in 28.49.

In the men’s 800m freestyle, Ayatsugu Hiriai topped the podium in a mark of 7:55.85, but was outside the minimum time standard of 7:50.28 needed for Gwangju.

Keisuke Yoshida took 800m free silver in 7:56.62, while Syogo Takeda also made the podium in 3rd place with 8:00.86.

Things brightened up with the men’s 200m fly, however, as Daiya Seto scored a solid time of 1:54.44 to land on top of the podium, as well as seal his spot on the roster for this summer’s World Championships.

Splitting 54.73/59.71, Seto hit the wall in a winning effort of 1:54.44, the 3rd fastest time in the world this year. His time also checks-in as the 24-year-old Olympic medalist’s season-best, overtaking his 1:54.53 from Jakarta that earned Asian Games gold.

2018-2019 LCM MEN 200 FLY

1.50.73 *WR
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1:55.55 is what was needed to qualify for Gwangju and Seto was the only man to do it. Runner-up Takumi Terada hit in 1:56.00, while Nao Horomura finished in 1:56.15 for bronze. Horomura was the silver medalist at last year’s Asian Games behind Seto, clocking 1:55.58 in Jakarta.

Of note, Olympic silver medalist in this 200m fly event, Masato Sakai, finished a respectable 4th in 1:56.65. Sakai has only been back racing a few months, as he underwent surgery last year to address a Ganglion cyst affecting one of his shoulders. The issue caused the swimmer pain and hindered his swimming, rendering Sakai off of the Pan Pacs and Asian Games rosters for Japan.

Seto followed his 2fly performance up with a top-seeded swim in the men’s 200m IM. Rocking a time of 1:58.44 after his 1:54.44 fly is remarkable, and gives Seto lane 4 for tomorrow night’s final. He holds the world’s 3rd fastest time in the 200m IM right now with his 1:56.98 clocked in January.

Chasing Seto is Juran Mizohata, who also was under 2:00 in 1:59.79, as was Takeharu Fujirmoi, who earned the 3rd seed in 1:59.98.

Two important men missing from the field, however, is Kosuke Hagino and Hiromasa Fujirmori. Hagino is taking a competitive break in an effort to re-fuel his mental competitive fires, while Fujimori is facing a positive doping test.

In more semi-final action, a remarkable 15 out of the 16 racers in the men’s 100m freestyle all nabbed times under the 50-second threshold. Spanning 48.44 from leader Katsumi Nakamura to 49.97 for 15th placed Keisuke Ishizaki, that result is remarkable for a nation who is still evolving its sprinting component.

Nakamura’s 48.44 represented the only sub-49 second outing of the field. As fast as that is, the 25-year-old Olympian will need to hack off another .33 tomorrow night to hit the strict 48.11 QT for Gwangju.

He’s proven he’s quite capable of doing that, however, as Nakamura holds the Japanese national record with the 47.87 he produced just last year. Already this season Nakamura has been as fast as 48.12, just .01 shy of the qualifying standard.

Hunting the mark along with Nakamura is teammate Shinri Shioura, the former national record holder who told gold in this event at last year’s Asian Games. Shioura will flank Nakamura with his semi time of 49.03, while Akira Nanba will be on Nakamura’s other side with his semi effort of 49.34. He tied Kaiya Seki, who also touched the wall in 49.34.

The men will also be fighting for spots on the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay, with the collective top 4 swimmers needing to hit a mark of 3:15.70 in order for the relay to be sent to Gwangju.

Suzuka Hasegawa nabbed the top spot in the women’s 200m fly in 2:07.21, with 200m IM Gwangju qualifier already here, Yui Ohashi, lurking behind in 2:09.36.

2:07.49 is the time to beat in the final, so Hasegwa is well on her way to making the World Championshsp team if she can replicate that performance during tomorrow night’s final.

An encouraging result ensued in the women’s 100m free semi-final, where the top 4 competitors all dipped under the 55-second barrier. Led by Rika Omoto‘s 54.34, the field looks primed to attack the 53.65 minimum time standard dictated by the JPN federation to make the squad.

Collectively, the top 4 women also need to nab a time faster than 3:37.68 to qualify for Gwangju in the 4x100m free relay.

However, the absence of Rikako Ikee was felt, as the teen would no doubt have led the women’s freestyle charge tonight. The young Olympian who is battling leukemia holds Japan’s 100m free national record in a monster 52.79 clocked just last November, with her diagnosis coming just months later.

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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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