Looking At Top 5 Swims From JPN SC C’ships Through ISL Lens


As the International Swimming League (ISL) team of the Tokyo Frog Kings had the first-weekend bye, many of the squad’s key swimmers raced at the Japan Short Course Championships. Top talent to the tune of Kosuke Hagino, Reona Aoki, and Ryosuke Irie were in the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Centre waters, with the comprehensive recaps of the two days linked above.

As we move into week 2 of the ISL, let’s take a look at the top 5 swims of the Japan Short Course Championships in their own right, but also through the lens of week #1’s matches. Keep in mind that the Japan meet was a two-day affair with traditional prelims and finals, as opposed to the rapid-fire racing characteristic of the ISL matches. As such, it’s not a straightforward comparison, but it does shed a little light on where Japan is at heading into this week’s competition in Budapest.

#1 Yui Ohashi‘s 4:24.87 400 IM & 2:05.09 200m IM Combo

Ok, so technically two swims, but Ohashi proved once again she is the Japanese IM queen across both long course and short course. The 24-year-old’s time of 4:24.87 in the 400m IM was within range of her national record of 4:22.73, a time she hit on the 2018 FINA World Cup circuit.

In the 200m IM, Ohashi hit a mark of 2:05.09 to slice .2 off of her own previous lifetime best and national record of 2:05.29 logged at the same World Cup. She still has a ways to go to beat out Ye Shiwen‘s Asian Record of 2:04.64 she put up in 2012, but the Japanese star did enter the list of all-time female performers worldwide in this SCM 200 IM event in slot #10.

ISL Match #1: Ohashi’s 200m IM time would have rendered her the runner-up in ISL match #1 behind Melanie Margalis‘ American Record of 2:04.06 for the Cali Condors. However, Ohashi’s 400m IM would have placed #1 in match #1, topping Margalis’ 4:25.48.

ISL Match #2: Ohashi’s times would have topped both IM fields in match #2, coming in ahead of London Roar’s top 200m IM finisher in Sydney Pickrem (2:07.31) as well as Iron’s Katinka Hosszu’s time of 4:30.52 which took the long IM.

#2 Kosuke Hagino‘s 1:52.73 200m IM & 4:02.75 400m IM Combo

Once again, technically two swims, but from the same Olympic athlete. Back from his tumultuous 2019, where his 5-month hiatus to tend to physical and mental health rendered him nearly off the Japanese national team entirely, Hagino has been steadily improving to the point where he will be a game-changer for the Tokyo Frog Kings.

His 1:52.73 200m IM time last weekend represented the 6th fastest time of the man’s long career, one which contains a lifetime best and national record of 1:50.47 from 2014. Since then, Hagino has hit times in the range of 1:52.65 in 2017 and 1:52.50 in 2018, giving us an indication that the man is re-focused and re-energized with a home Olympic Games on the horizon.

Hagino produced a super solid time of 4:02.75 in the long IM, with the new dad’s short course meters personal best resting at the 4:01.17 from 2014. Since then, he logged a time of 4:01.93 in the 2018 FINA World Cup.

As such, this past weekend’s performance checks-in among Hagino’s best in recent years.

ISL Match #1: Hagino’s 1:52.73 200m IM would have sneaked under Andrew Seliskar‘s (LAC) winning time of 1:52.97. Additionally, Hagino’s 4:02.75 would have beaten Max Litchfield of Energy Standard, who wracked up the most points in this 400m IM event of match #1 with a time of 4:04.50.

ISL Match #2: Philip Heintz of the Aqua Centurions won the men’s 200m IM in 1:52.78, so Hagino’s effort would have slid under that margin by just .05. Iron’s David Verraszto’s 4:04.25 400m IM time falls outside Hagino’s 4:02.75 as well.

#3 Ippei Watanabe‘s 2:02.91 200m Breast

A man who is not a member of the Tokyo Frog Kings took the 200m breaststroke event in Tokyo, as Watanabe got it done for gold in 2:02.91, the only sub- 2:03 mark of the field.

Watanabe’s personal best entering this meet rested at the 2:03.23 he put up in 2016, so the former long course World Record holder has now dipped under the 2:03 mark for the first time in his career.

#4 Katsuhiro Matsumoto‘s 45.94 100m Free

Although Matsumoto nailed a new 200m free national record last weekend in a time of 1:42.10, his improvement in the 100m free is the swim that made our list.

Splitting 22.37/24.57, Matsumoto hit the wall in a big-time 46.94.  With that performance, the 23-year-old became just the 3rd Japanese man to join the 46-second club in this SCM 100 free, with his result positioning him behind national record holder Katsumi Nakamura (46.22, 2018) and Shinri Shioura (46.59, 2016), neither of whom competed last weekend.

ISL Match #1: As a Tokyo Frog King, his 46.94 time in the lesser event for Matsumoto would have landed him among the top 3, behind winner Caeleb Dressel‘s 45.87 for Condors and Manaudou’s 46.04 for ENS.

ISL Match #2: The 2nd ISL match would have seen Matsumoto’s time render him as the 5th place finisher.

#5 Takeshi Kawamoto‘s 22.19 50 Fly & 49.54 100 Fly

Again with the double swim, but Kawamoto clocked new national records in both the 50m fly and 100m fly event, so they both deserve recognition. He posted a winning 50m fly effort of 22.19, a mark that beat the next closest JPN SC Championships competitor by .24, but it also obliterated the previous Japanese National Record.

The previous national standard stood at the 22.49 Masayuki Kishida first put on the books way back in 2009 before Kawamoto matched it at the 2018 Japanese World Championships Trials. As such, 25-year-old Kawamoto hacked .30 off of his previous career-quickest to land atop the podium and own the new national record outright.

Kawamoto’s 22.19 result here also crushed the Asian continental record in the 50m fly event, which stood at 22.40 from Singapore’s Olympic champion Joseph Schooling‘s time at the 2018 FINA World Cup Singapore stop.

Kawamoto followed up with a big-time outing of 49.54 in the 100m fly to take gold and overtake his own previous NR of 49.60 from the 2018 Japan World Championships Trials. That sub-50 swim bumped him up from 20th to 17th on the all-time performers’ list worldwide in the 100m fly.

ISL Match #1: Kawamoto’s 100m fly effort would have taken the top spot in match 1 as a Tokyo Frog Kings’ member, beating Tom Sheilds’ winning time of 49.58 that gave his LA Current team 12 points. His 50m fly time also told have touched out Cali Condor Caeleb Dressel‘s 22.46 50m fly win.

ISL Match #2: Had Kawamoto swum both times in match #2, he would have split the races with Aqua Centurion Szebasztian Szabo. Szabo took the men’s 50m fly in 22.00, which would have outperformed Kawamoto’s 22.19. But, Kawamoto’s 49.54 would have topped Szabo’s 49.93 winning 100m fly.

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2 years ago

How did my boy Irie do? His wonderfully smooth stroke but mediocre underwaters doesn’t necessarily translate well in SCM, but on the flip side he is such a consistently quick in-season swimmer.

Ikee Fan
2 years ago

Voting for new SCM pools and much more SCM competitions here.

IU Swammer
2 years ago

We’ll see if they can hold that taper. I imagine some will be upping their training during this ISL season. It’ll be interesting to watch their endurance and speed over five weeks.

2 years ago

Frog Kings gonna be huge

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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