Japan Open Day 2: Yui Ohashi Crushes Another 4:33 400 IM



Winning the men’s 1500m free to kick-off day 2 of the 2019 Japan Open was Ayatsugu Hirai. Hirai clocked a winning effort of 15:01.52 to hack over 6 seconds off of the 15:08.00 he put up at the Japan Swim to take gold there as well.

Hirai holds a personal best of 14:56.10 in this 1500m free, a mark he produced for gold at the 2015 World University Games to make him the 3rd fastest performer in Japanese swimming history.

Finishing in the runner-up spot this evening was Atsuya Yoshida, who collected a time of 15:10.97 while Syogo Takeda rounded out the top 3 in 15:11.47.

Unfortunately for the men, a time of 14:54.07 is what the Japanese Swimming Federation set as the minimum qualification standard to make this summer’s World Championships squad.


2 women dipped under the 31-second threshold in tonight’s 50m breaststroke final, led by yesterday’s 100m breast victor Reona Aoki. The 24-year-old punched a winning time of 30.78, with teammate Satomi Suzuki finishing less than .10 later in 30.86.

Aoki clocked a big-time 100m breast mark of 1:06.44 to take gold last night, qualifying for this summer’s World Championships, as well as inserting herself into the world’s top 5 performers in the event this season. Suzuki was runner-up last night in that 100m breast as well.

A time of 30.30 is what was needed to qualify in this event for Gwangju.


The story was the same in terms of non-qualifiers in the men’s edition of the 50m breast, with yesterday’s 100m winner Yasuhiro Koseki taking his 2nd crown in 27.27. He was quicker at April’s Japan Swim where the two-time Pan Pacs gold medalist produced a mark of 27.01.

A minimum mark of 26.85 was needed to add this event to his line-up for Gwangju on an objective basis, although the federation may allow him to enter based on his 100m qualification. Of note, the 26.85 QT is faster than the Japanese National Record, which stands at the 26.94 Koseki logged at the Mare Nostrum-Monte Carlo back in 2018.

Taku Taniguchi put up a fight in the event, finishing .3 behind Koseki, while Hayato Watanabe finished just .01 out of the silver slot in 27.58 to land on the podium with the bronze.


  • GOLD – Yui Ohashi, 4:33.81 **World Championships QT
  • SILVER – Sakiko Shimizu, 4:42.68
  • BRONZE – Ageha Tanigawa, 4:43.81

23-year-old Yui Ohashi solidified herself as the IM queen once again, tearing up this 400 event with a monster 4:33.81 tonight for gold. That fell less than a second off of the 4:33.02 she clocked at the Japan Swim to put her name on teh roster for this summer’s World Championships.

Ohashi’s outing this evening cleared the field by almost 9 seconds, besting the next-closest competitor, Shimizu, who was well behind in 4:42.68.

Ohashi won gold at the 2018 Asian Games in this event in a mark of 4:34.58 and also was a two-time gold medalist at last year’s Pan Pacific Championships. A time of 4:33.77 there beat out the likes of American Melanie Margalis for gold, while Shimizu produced a mark of 4:36.27 at that meet to give Japan a 1 & 3 finish.

Earning bronze tonight was Ageha Tanigawa, just 16 years of age, who powered her way to the podium in an outing of 4:43.81, a new lifetime best for the teen. Tanigawa is now ranked #3 in the world this year among 18&U women.

A time minimum of 4:36.35 was needed to qualify for Gwangju, so Ohashi remains the sole qualifier in this event.


The women’s 200m free field came out swinging, with the same 3 finishers from the Japan Swim finishing in the same order this time around as well. Rio Shirai once again led the pack clocking a winning effort of 1:57.06 to clear the field by just under a second.

Shirai’s time from April was 1:57.16, so she sliced .10 off of that effort to take her 2nd national gold in as many months.

Chihiro Igarashi, last night’s 400m freestyle silver medalist, produced a time of 1:57.91, falling within .03 of the 1:57.88 she logged in April, while Tomomi Aoki was also within range of her previous time with tonight’s bronze medal-worthy 1:58.03. She was 1:58.26 for bronze at the Japan Swim.

Although no one qualified for this event individually, the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay of Shirai, Igarashi, Aoki and Nagisa Imemoto were already named to the World Championships roster.


Claiming gold once again in the men’s 200m free event was Katsuhiro Matsumotothe 22-year-old emerging star in this event who punched the wall in 1:46.62. That was shy of the stiff 1:45.75 qualifying standard, but Matsumoto already made that mark at April’s Japan Open when he crushed a gold medal-worthy mark of 1:45.63.

That mark still stands as the 2nd fastest swimmer in the world this season. Matsumoto’s time tonight still lands as his 3rd fastest ever, with his 1:46.50 from last year’s Asian Games resting as his #2, giving him the silver in Jakarta.

Naito Ehara collected silver this evening in 1:47.88, dipping under the 1:48 second threshold, which is something he didn’t do with his 1:48.19 bronze performance at the Japan Swim. Of note, Hungarian Kristof Milak was also in the final, finishing 6th with a time of 1:48.45. He holds a PB of 1:46.90 from the Hungarian Nationals in March.

The men’s 4x200m freestyle relay most likely will not be named to the World Championships roster based on these results.


Just one woman ventured under the minute mark in tonight’s 100m back, represented by Natsumi Sakai and her podium-topping 59.95. That clipped .03 off of the 59.98 she produced at the Japan Swim, but still falls short of the 59.68 QT needed to add her name to the Gwangju roster for this event individually.

Marina Furubayashi wrangled up silver in 1:00.50, while Anna Konishi rounded out the top 3 in 1:00.74.


Seemingly ageless Ryosuke Irie won the men’s 100m back to double up on his victory from the Japan Swim, but his time tonight was off of his previous mark. In April, the 29-year-old Olympic medalist put up a time of 53.53 for the victory, while tonight he was only .10 away from 54.00 in 53.90 to top the podium.

Both times weren’t able to meet the strict minimum QT of 53.36 needed to qualify individually for Gwangju, although Irie has already been named to the roster for both the medley relay, as well as the 200m back event.

Masaki Kaneko produced the 6th fastest time of his career in 54.38 for silver, while Taishi Natsume crushed his 55.22 from the Japan Swim to also get on the podium this evening in 54.38.

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About Retta Race

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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