For the Konami Open slated for Saturday, February 15th and Sunday, February 16th, a $275,000 prize furnished by sponsors is up for grabs to anyone breaking a World Record at the event. A prize worth $50,000 will be award to any Japanese swimmer breaking a national record at the meet. You can read the details from our original post here.
Just announced as following suit is the Japan Swim, set for April 1st – 8th at the Tokyo Aquatics Center, the meet which represents the nation’s sole Olympic-qualifying competition. The Japanese Swimming Federation is offering a bonus of 3 million yen (~$27,300) for a world record set during the competition and 1 million yen (~$9,100) bonus for a Japanese national record.
Additionally, the top 3 placeholders, regardless of times, will be given cash awards to the tune of 300,000 yen ($2700) for first place, 100,000 yen ($911) for second place and 50,000 yen ($455) for third place.
Although the Japan Swim is a means to an end, which is qualifying for the bigger show of the 2020 Olympic Games, which will be home-based in Japan, swimmers will certainly be bringing their A-game to this Trials meet. That may lead to broken records if all falls into place.
Not only is domestic competition fierce in Japan, as evidenced by on-fire Daiya Seto‘s 4:06.09 400m IM and Yui Ohashi‘s impressive 4:32.57 400m IM on the women’s side, but the swimmers will be racing against the clock to ensure they hit the stiff qualification times mandated by their federation.
As we analyzed when Japan’s Olympic qualifying time standards were released last September, meeting the marks necessary to represent their nation in Tokyo is a tall order. For instance, the QT of 7:48.12 in the men’s 800m free is quicker than the long-standing Japanese National Record of 7:49.65 Olympian Takeshi Matsuda put on the books way back in 2009.
Also, the men’s 50m free time standard of 21.77 sits just .10 away from Shinri Shioura‘s National Record time of 21.67 notched at the Japan Swim in April of 2019.
With that in mind, it’s conceivable that at least Japanese national records will be at-risk throughout the Olympic season. In terms of the standards most likely to go down, below are the top 3 for the men and top 3 for the women that look likely to be overtaken at the Japan Swim.
Of note, although I do believe that the 200m IM and 400m IM marks will go down by the hand of Seto, the man has already qualified for the Olympics in these events and will most likely save his best performances for then.
Top 3 Men’s JPN National Records Most Likely to Fall at Japan Swim:
- 100 Freestyle – 47.87
- Japan has made major strides in the sprint swimming world over the past few years, with Katsumi Nakamura and Shinri Shioura trading records across both the 50m and 100m free events. Nakamura owns the current national record in the 100m free with the 47.87 he logged at the 2018 Konami Open and has notched a season-best of 48.81 already.
- But, what is putting this record most at risk is the fact that 100m freestylers are coming out of the woodworks in Japan. At the Kitajima Cup alone, 5 men went sub-49 seconds at that in-season meet, displaying once again that the nation’s swimmers mean business when it comes to a home-based Games. Those under 49 include the aforementioned Nakamura and Shioura, along with Matsumoto and Masahiro Kawane and Kaiya Seki.
- With Japan never having medaled in the men’s 4x100m free relay, men may wind up breaking the individual national record en route to merely trying to qualify for the relay roster in the hopes of making history this summer.
- 200 Freestyle – 1:45.22
- Speaking of which, Katsuhiro (Katsuo) Matsumoto made history by becoming the first man ever from Japan to medal at a long course World Championships with his silver in Gwangju last year. He clocked the current national record of 1:45.22 en route to the podium but has already been as fast as 1:45.82 in-season at the Kitajima Cup late last month, which is just over half a second outside his record.
- 200 Breaststroke – 2:06.67
- Ippei Watanabe‘s record of 2:06.67 checked in as the world’s fastest ever when he put it up at the 2017 Kitajima Cup. The man came oh-so-close to breaking his record in Gwangju at the 2019 World Championships, falling just .06 shy in hitting the wall in 2:06.73 for bronze.
- 18-year-old Shoma Sato has demonstrated his promise in this 2breast event as of late, dropping his previous lifetime best of 2:09.21 down to a scorching 2:07.58 to throw his hat into the ring for Olympic contention. But, veteran Yasuhiro Koseki will be lurking as well to make this a must-see race at Trials.
Top 3 Women’s JPN National Records Most Likely to Fall at Japan Swim:
- 800 Freestyle – 8:23.68
- With multi-national record holder and 2016 Olympic finalist Rikako Ikee still out of competition, while recovering from leukemia, the sprint freestyle and butterfly Japanse national records seem all but guaranteed to remain intact through the 2020 Olympic Games.
- But, another teenager in 17-year-old Miyu Namba appears ready to make some moves in the distance arena, specifically in the women’s 800m free.
- Namba took the World Junior Championships silver medal last year in 8:27.24, a time within 4 seconds of the long-standing national record set by Sachiko Yamada in 2004. With the right motivation and team qualification on the line, not to mention the cash, Namba may be primed to have a breakout performance come April, putting this national record at risk.
- 100 Breaststroke – 1:05.88
- This is a bold prediction, as Kanako Watanabe has held this women’s 100m breaststroke national record since 2014. However, Reona Aoki has been flirting with a big swim for some time now and is due to make another run at this sub-1:06 outing soon.
- Aoki’s personal bests rests at the 1:05.90 she put up 2 years ago, a time that fell just .02 shy of Watanabe’s record. In 2019 she logged a time of 1:06.30, so she’s within range of taking down this mark, especially when you throw domestic rivals Runa Imai and Miho Teramura into the competitive mix.
- 400 IM – 4:30.82
- Yui Ohashi is the undisputed Japanese queen of the IM events, earning bronze in this 400M IM in Gwangju in a time of 4:32.23. Already this season she’s been as quick as 4:32.57 to rank #2 in the world behind Katinka Hosszu.
- Unlike Seto, Ohashi missed out on gold in Gwangju, which means she’ll need to earn her bid for Tokyo the old-fashioned way and very well may bust out a new record while doing it.