The Japanese, one of the world’s few countries who carry their short course events into the new year, are holding their Short Course Meters National Championship meet at the Tatsumi Swim Center in Tokyo.
The first Asian Record on the day came from Masaki Kaneko in the men’s 200 meter backstroke early in the session. There, he was a 1:48.84 to beat the 1:49.69 done by Yuki Shirai at the 2012 Tokyo World Cup stop. So ripe was that record for the breaking that Shirai also cleared his old mark with a 1:48.98 for 2nd place.
The other Asian Record went to Yasuhiro Koseki in the men’s 100 meter breaststroke. Whereas the sprints have lagged in Japan, breaststroke has long been a point of national pride, especially in the men’s program, and the 21-year old Koseki made short work of the National Record in the event with a 56.34. The old record of 57.20 (also the Asian Record)
Two of those records were of the really significant variety, breaking Asian Continental Records. Early in the meet, 18-year old Miki Uchida won the women’s 50 free in 24.31. That thumped the junior swimmers old National Record, done at the 2012 World Short Course championships, of 24.69 just a week shy of her 19th birthday.
There is a lot of great young sprint talent in Japan right now, including a 13-year old who placed 5th in a 25.30. Sprint freestylers are where the country has historically lagged (consider that even with Uchida’s swim today, Japan’s short course national record lags behind the long course national record of neighbors China, and many other countries), but the sprint program continues to build in a positive direction. Along those lines, the country’s sprint veteran, Haruka Ueda, was nowhere to be seen in this 50 free final.
The country’s new star, Kosuke Hagino, had a good meet, though perhaps didn’t swim as well as his pre-meet ambitions to challenge some World Records. Hagino was a 1:42.51 in the 200 free, which smacked the 1:43.83 that the relatively unknown Syunsuke Kuzuhara swam a the 2012 edition of this meet.
That was one of two wins at this meet for Hagino, though his other in the 400 IM was the one that failed to meet his stated target of the Ryan Lochte World Record. His swim in Tokyo on Saturday was a 3:58.28, which not only missed Lochte’s mark, but missed Hagino’s own best time (and continental record) from a month ago by almost two seconds.
Finally, the other National Record breaking swim went to the now 17-year old Kanako Watanabe in the women’s 100 IM. She swam a 59.28, to take .06 off of her own National Record. Watanabe first burst onto the seen at a very young age as a breaststroker, but in the last year-or-so has really been shifting her focus to the IM’s.
This win in the 100 IM came after she opened her meet with a 1:05.29 in the 100 breaststroke, which fell to fellow teenager Mio Motegi and her 1:05.22.
Though not any kind of national record-breaking performance, the other result worth mentioning is a double from teenager Sayaka Akase in the women’s backstroke races. First, she took the 200 meter race in 2 :02.38, and she later tagged on a 26.99 in the 50 backstroke.