2019 KIRARA CUP
- Saturday, February 9th & Sunday, February 10th
- Kirara Expo Park, Yamaguchi, Japan
You’ve read about Katsumi Nakamura‘s speedy 100m freestyle performance, as well as Rika Omoto‘s breakout 100m free time at the 2019 Kirara Cup, but here’s what also went down in Yamaguchi this weekend.
The men’s 200m breaststroke saw a dogfight between Pan Pacific Championships gold medalist Yasuhiro Koseki and reigning World Record holder Ippei Watanabe. Koseki already threw down a mighty 59.24 in the 100m breast at this meet, a time that now overtakes Italian Nicolo Martingenghi’s 59.37 to lead the world rankings this season.
But Koseki had designs on the 200m distance as well, taking Watanabe to the wire to ultimately win by a margin of just .11. Kosuke cranked out a winning effort of 2:08.05, while Watanabe touched a hair later in 2:08.16. Both marks fall just outside the top 25 performances ever in the event, but the men are already on the list of top performances ever with Watanabe’s 2:06.67 WR and Koseki’s PB of 2:07.18 from 2017.
However, their 2:08-low efforts from this weekend now easily place Kosuke and Watanabe as the top two swimmers in the world this season.
Note that splits were not available at time of publishing.
Another world ranking shake-up occurred in the men’s 200m IM, where Hiromasa Fujimori broke through with a nice 1:58.89 for gold at Kirara. Fujimori is no stranger to impressive 2IM performance, having finished 4th at the 2016 Olympic Games with a 1:57.21. Tonight’s effort now inserts the mainstay into the top 5 of the world rankings, bumping countryman Tomoya Takeuchi down to the 6th slot.
Freestyle standout Katsuhiro Matsumoto got the job done in the men’s 200m free, clocking 1:47.45 for gold. He also took silver in the 100m behind Nakamura in 49.47. Matsumoto was also on the podium with silver in the 400m free, as his 3:54.90 fell just shy of Kohei Yamamoto‘s gold medal-garnering 3:54.51.
Matsumoto’s 200m freestyle specialty has already served him well this season, as the 21-year-old’s mark of 1:46.93 ranks him 5th in the world.
Takeshi Kawamoto took the men’s 100m fly in 52.20, just off his season-best of 52.17, while Nao Horamura busted out a gutsty 1:55.90 to hold off a charging Takumi Terada. Terada finished in 1:56.39 for silver, with Rio silver medalist Masato Sakai back in the pool racing again with a 1:57.99 for bronze.
For Horamura, his sub-1:56 keeps him as the 3rd fastest swimmer in the world.
Sakiko Shimizu became the 3rd Japanese woman to enter the world rankings’ top 10 in the 400m IM, taking gold in Yamaguchi in a time of 4:41.95. The 26-year-old took bronze at last year’s Pan Pacific Championships in a time of 4:36.27 and earned bronze in the same event at the Asian Games with a mark of 4:39.10.