Matsumoto Tops 2019 2Free World Rankings, Irie Just Misses QT


As a testament to how stiff the Japanese qualifying times are for this summer’s World Championships, Olympic icon Ryosuke Irie snagged his 8th consecutive 100m back title, but failed to meet the QT for Gwangju.

Irie hit the 53.36 minimum during last night’s semi-finals in the event, clocking 53.32 to take the top seed with ease. This evening, however, the 29-year-old triple Olympic medalist fell just short, registering a final mark of 53.53.

The veteran was clearly disappointed after the race, although he’ll still have an opportunity to qualify individually at next month’s Japan Swim. In the meantime, Irie at least secured his spot on the medley relay.

Behind Irie tonight was Hayate Matsubara in 54.51, while Masaki Kaneko earned bronze in 54.52.

Also just missing the mark on the women’s side of the 100m back was 17-year-old Natsumi Sakai. The Rio Olympian clocked a winning time of 59.98, coming within .3 of the JPN QT of 59.68 needed for Gwangju. Like Irie, she’ll be on the medley relay, but needs an extra swim next month to make it happen individually.

A person who did make the grade was Katasuhiro Matsumoto, who took his 2nd consecutive 200m freestyle title at these championships. The Asian Games silver medalist roared to the wall tonight in a mark of 1:45.63, within striking distance of absent Kosuke Hagino‘s national record of 1:45.23. As a refresher, Hagino is absent from these championships as he re-motivates himself for Rio.

Splitting 51.29/54.34, Matsumoto powered his way to the wall by well over 2 seconds, with Keisuke Yoshida finishing well back in 1:48.19 for silver, while Naito Ehara tied Yoshida in the same time. Yoshida took the men’s 400m free earlier in this meet, with Ehara taking silver in that race.

Matsumoto’s effort clears the qualifying time of 1:45.75 needed for this summer’s World Championships, as well as lays waste to his 1:46.50 time from last year’s Asian Games that garnered him the silver medal. It also surpassed the 1:45.92 he clocked in Tokyo last year to earn bronze at the Pan Pacific Championships.

The 22-year-old now sits as the 2nd fastest swimmer in the world right now season-wise, with his 1:45.63 outing positioned only behind Fernando Scheffer’s world-leading 1:45.51 from a Brazilian meet last December.  That means Matsumoto holds the fastest time of 2019, however, even ahead of Chinese swimmer Sun Yang’s 1:45.73 from Chinese Nationals last week.

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Waka Kobori was the women’s 1500m winner in 16:11.00, while Rio Shirai took the women’s 200m free in 1:57.16. Neither woman was able to nab qualifying times individually for Gwangju.

For Shirai, she’ll make the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay, assuming they field one, along with runners-up Chihiro Igarashi and Tomomi Aoki, who touched in 2nd and 3rd with times of 1:57.88 and 1:58.26, respectively. 4th in the race went to Nagisa Imemoto, just 16, who earned 1:58.44.

The four women’s time collectively equal 7:51.74, which beats the qualifying relay mark of 7:52.50. For perspective, the absent Rikako Ikee, who is battling leukemia, holds the Japanese national record in 1:54.85.

As with Yasuhiro Koseki last night in the men’s edition of the 100m breast, the women’s field came away qualification-less. Misaki Sekiguchi took the gold in 1:07.70, but fell well short of the 1:06.48 needed for this summer’s World Championships.

Satomi Suzuki finished in 1:07.75 for silver in the tightly contested race, while Mai Fukasawa rounded out the top 3 in 1:07.88.

Things looked up slightly in the men’s 50m breast for Koseki, however, as the Pan Pacs champion took the 50m breast.

Hitting the wall in 27.01, Koseki dipped under the 27.14 Dispatch II QT, but didn’t hit the Dispatch I time of 26.85, most likely meaning he did not notch a spot on the JPN roster for Gwangju in this event. He’ll have another opportunity in next month’s Japan Swim.

Silver in the men’s 50m breast went to Ryuto Shiori who touched in 27.54, while Masaki Niyuma fell just .01 of the runner-up spot, clocking 27.55 for bronze.

SCM 200 fly world record holder Daiya Seto is looking good in his specialty event, earning a prelims time of 1:56.14 to lead the field out of the heats. Then tonight, the 24-year-old clocked a big 1;55.07 to further distance himself from the 2fly field. That outing already dipped under the 1:55.55, but he’ll need to do it again in finals to make the roster officially.

Also gunning to qualify are the 3 swimmers immediately trailing Seto in Diaki Tanaka (1:57.07), Masafumi Ohsaka (1:57.10) and Nao Horamura (1:57.14).

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5 years ago

Satomi Suzuki has been around forever. She won three Olympic medals in 2012.

5 years ago

so many guys hitting the 1.45 mark in the 200 free recently …..

5 years ago

Watch out for Scheffer and Breno Correia in 2 weeks..

5 years ago

Irie seemed more disappointed by the state of Japanese swimming, saying he shouldn’t have won with that time (his words, not mine)…

Also no qualif for Koseki per Japanese media, apparently because for the 50 fly, 50 back and 50 breast, the QT is the I time, not the II.

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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