Japan Women Break National Record in 800 Free Relay Thanks to Ikee


They may have finished in last place (4th out of 4 teams), but the Japanese women still managed to break a National Record in the 800 free relay at the end of Friday’s session at the 2018 Pan Pac Championships.

Their finals time of 7:48.96 lowered the old record of 7:50.43 that was swum at last year’s World Championships that was good for 5th place. a 7:48.51, just four-tenths faster than Japan was on Friday, took bronze at Worlds – although that bronze was earned by Australia, who won Friday’s race in a 7:44.

Japan’s Splits from 2018 Pan Pacs

Swimmer 50 100 150 200 RT
Chihiro Igarashi 27.83 57.77 1:28.36 1:57.88 0.74
Rikako Ikee 26.49 55.56 1:25.40 1:54.69 0.24
Rio Shirai 27.04 56.71 1:27.34 1:58.29 0.13
Yui Ohashi 27.25 57.31 1:27.95 1:58.10 0.13
Total Time 7:48.96

The irony is that 3/4 of the relay didn’t actually have record-scaring swims. Igarashi on the leadoff was .04 slower than Worlds (call it a wash), but Shirai and Ohashi on the last two legs were pretty significantly slower than Aoki and Takano were in those same two slots at Worlds last year.

So what was the difference? The breakout year of 18-year old Rikako Ikee, who has carried a record-breaking season through to the first of Japan’s two major summer long course meets. She improved her split on the 2nd leg by 2.7 seconds, which not only made up for Shirai and Ohashi’s legs, but allowed Japan to crush the old record, rather than just slide under it.

Ohashi is 22 and primarily an IMer (she won the 400 IM on Thursday), while Shirai is only 18.

Comparative Splits t0 2017 Worlds

2018 Swimmer 2017 Swimmer
Chihiro Igarashi 1:57.88 Chihiro Igarashi 1:57.84
Rikako Ikee 1:54.69 Rikako Ikee 1:57.38
Rio Shirai 1:58.29 Tomomomi Aoki 1:57.72
Yui Ohashi 1:58.10 Aya Takano 1:57.49
Total Time 7:48.96 Total Time 7:50.43

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner 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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