Japan’s Ryosuke Irie was the big story on the 2nd day of competition when he swam a 1:54.54 to take the meet record by better than 3 seconds. Swimming in-season is nothing new for Irie, and consistency has never been an issue for him: last year, out of the top 20 times swum in the world, Irie claimed more than anybody with eight of them (nobody else had more than three swims that made the sub-1:57 cut). The knock has always been his ability to drop and achieve top-end speed.
Fast-forward to this year, and he’s got the world’s four best times, all of which have been 1:54.6’s or better. Last year, he didn’t come close to that threshold even once. Irie is swimming at an in-season level that we’ve never seen in textile before, including from the greats like Aaron Peirsol, Lochte, and Michael Phelps. It remains to be seen whether or not he can run down Lochte or hold off Tyler Clary, who we haven’t heard much from this year. But if medaling at World’s is his goal, he won’t need a big year-end drop to earn at least a bronze this summer.
Runner-up, and Irie’s Japanese countrymate, Kazuki Watanabe, also cleared the old meet record in 1:58.21. (The old meet record was set in 2004 by one swimming’s biggest one-hit-wonders, Romanian Razvan Florea, at 1:58.37. He would go on to win his only world-level medal later that year: a bronze at the Olympics.)
In the men’s sprint backstroke, Gerhard Zandberg won in 24.96, which clears the old meet record set by Benjamin Treffers in 2009. Treffers also cleared the old mark with his runner-up finish in 25.02. For Treffers, that time moves him into a tie for 6th in the world this year.
In the women’s sprint backstroke, another number-one ranked Japanese swimmer, Aya Terakawa, won in 28.09. That’s her second-best time of the season. The former record-holder, Anastasia Zueva, sat this race out to put her focus on the more Olympic 200m distance, which paid off big with a cash-earning win in 2:08.74.
Therese Alshammar won her third race of the meet in the women’s 50 fly (25.69). Sarah Sjostrom, her swedish teammate who didn’t have a great first day of the competition, was the runner-up in 26.08. Neither of those times are season best for the swimmers who rank 2nd and 3rd in the world, respectively, but it does give the Nordic duo 9 out of the 15 fastest swims in the world in 2011.
Sjostrom continued her hot swimming on the meet’s second day, in stark contrast to the first, with a win in 54.55. That’s just off of her best-time of the season, and bested Veronika Popova (54.68), who recently broke the Russian National Record in this event.
There were plenty more meet records to go down on the second day in Canet. Japan’s Natsumi Hoshi won the women’s 200 fly in 2:07.40. Combined with her win from the first meet in Barcelona and her Japanese National Title, Hoshi now has three of the world’s 10 fastest times this year. Australian Jessicah Schipper was well off of her form in a 3rd-place finish in 2:10.55. Last year, Schipper was one of only four swimmers in the world to go sub-2:07, even on the back of having multiple taper meets, but this year she hasn’t looked close to that good. She’ll be in a dogfight for the bronze medal at World’s, with nobody seeming to be good enough to catch the two Chinese swimmers, and hopefully this time is more the result of stepped-up training in preparation for a big taper.
Norweigan Alexander Dale Oen won the men’s 100 breaststroke in 1:00.29, which pushes him to a tie for 5th in the World Rankings this year and breaks Christian Sprenger’s two-year old record. The man he’s tied with in the world rankings, South African Cameron van der Burgh, was 3rd here in 1:01.14. Splitting the two was Ryo Tateishi in 1:00.94.
Matt Targett, who currently stands atop the world rankings in the men’s 50 fly, won the event in a swift 23.43. That bested Roland Schoeman (23.86) and Spain’s Rafael Munoz (23.88), who are two of his three biggest competitors in this race at Worlds this year. One of the other men who will be chasing that title is Brazilian Cesar Cielo, who at the Rio State Championships this weekend in Brazil swam a 23.55 in rough, outdoor weather conditions.
Takeshi Matsuda and teammate Ryusuke Sakata are currently ranked 1-2 in the world, and that’s the same order that they finished in at Canet. Matsuda was 1st in 1:55.25, and Sakata took 2nd in 1:55.80. Rounding out the top 5 in a loaded field were Kaio Almeida (1:56.00), Laszlo Cseh (1:56.50), and young Hungarian star Bence Biczo in 1:56.56: which is nearly identical to his time earlier this week in Barcelona. So deep was this field that 200 short course World Champion Chad le Clos finished only 7th in 1:56.74.
Camille Muffat in the women’s 400 free in 4:06.93
Satomi Suzuki (1:08.30) outtouched Samantha Marshall (1:08.37) in the women’s 100 breaststroke
James Roberts won the men’s 100 free in 49.02, ahead of Matt Targett (49.20) and Jeremy Stravius (49.22)
Yosuke Miyamoto completed the distance double with a win in the men’s 1500 in 15:19.12.