The Japan Open is rarely any kind of a selection meet for anything, but that seems to rarely prevent the nationals from putting in spectacular swims.
Thursday’s beginning to the 2014 edition of that meet at the Tatsumi International Swim Center continued that trend, as Kanako Watanabe put up a spectacular 100 meter breaststroke.
The 18-year old swam a 1:05.88 in the event final, which by half-a-second improved the 1:06.3 done by Satomi Suzuki back in 2009 as the National Record.
Her’s was the winning swim of the day, but it wasn’t the only impressive mark. In fact, Suzuki also almost broke her own National Record, swimming a 1:06.48 for 2nd. Rie Kaneto was 3rd in 1:07.84, and all 10 A-finalists were faster than 1:10’s.
None of those top three, Watanabe, Suzuki, and Kaneto, were even close to as fast at last year’s Japan Open, though all three swam very well at the Japanese Championships earlier this year, so the results weren’t a big surprise. The timing is interesting, however; Japan has the Pan Pacs in late August, and then the Asian Games in late September. This timing could indicate that those Asian Games, still three months away, are the bigger target.
The 200 breaststroke record is as good-as-broken later in the meet.
The men’s 100 breaststroke final was no slouch either. Yasuhiro Koseki won that final in 59.91, with Naoya Tomita 2nd in 1:00.46. There was some concern around Koseki taking the breaststroke spot at Pan Pacs on the medley relay, but going sub-minute in June should alleviate some of those worries. Kosuke Kitajima swam roughly the same time (1:00.61) as he did at Japan’s Nationals and selection meet, but the placing was much improved.
Daiya Seto, another member of the international squads this summer, won the men’s 400 IM in 4:10.21. He beat the country’s hottest male swimmer right now Kosuke Hagino by over two seconds. This race exposed Hagino’s weakness, the breaststroke, where Seto outsplit him by more than a second.
Miki Uchida, who already has a few sprint freestyle records, is now encroaching on some sprint butterfly records as well. She won the women’s race in 26.20, which is a quarter-of-a-second away from the record.
Kouhei Kawamoto and Masayuki Kishida tied for the win in the men’s 50 fly, with matched 23.82’s.
The other two winners on the day were Chihiro Igarashi in the women’s 400 free with a 4:11.02, and Reo Sakata winning the men’s 100 free in 49.53 at just 18.
Full, live meet results available here.