68th Nihon University/Chuo University Swimming Competition
- Saturday, July 1st
- Tokyo Aquatics Center, Tokyo, Japan
- LCM (50m)
- Results (in Japanese)
The 68th edition of the battle between Japan’s Nihon University and Chuo University took place on Saturday, July 1st. Several of the nation’s athletes bound for Fukuoka for this month’s World Championships took to the Tokyo Aquatics Center pool for some final tune-up racing.
One such athlete was Japanese team captain Ryosuke Irie, with the 33-year-old taking on his bread-and-butter 100m backstroke event.
Competing as an exhibition athlete, Irie put up a solid effort of 53.44, comprised of a 25.68 opener and a 27.76 back half.
Irie currently ranks as the 10th quickest performer in the world, courtesy of his season-best 52.93 logged at January’s Kosuke Kitajima Cup.
In April, Irie remarkably qualified for his 8th World Championships appearance in the 100m back, clocking a time of 53.46 at the Japan Championships. That performance also marked Irie’s 10th consecutive national title in the event.
On his performance this past weekend, team captain Irie said, “There are some parts that are not good enough yet but the first half of 25.68 is better than I felt it was.
“I’m tired so it’s difficult to speed up. I want to make some adjustments in the remaining time before the World Championships.”
Olympic silver medalist Tomoru Honda was also in the water, with the Nihon University ace clocking a time of 1:54.48 to take the men’s 200m fly. Honda opened in 54.07 and closed in 1:00.41 to establish a new meet record en route to gold.
The 21-year-old currently ranks as the #2 swimmer in the world in the 2fly event, owning a season-best and lifetime best of 1:52.70 notched at December’s Japan Open. That performance rendered Honda Japan’s second-fastest man ever, as well as the 4th swiftest performer of all time worldwide.
At April’s World Championship Trials, Honda produced a podium-topping result of 1:53.34 to qualify for Fukuoka.
As far as Honda’s assessment of his performance this weekend, he said, “It’s not bad considering I’m in a state of accumulated fatigue.”
Hungary’s World Record holder Kristof Milak is the top performer in the world right now with the 1:52.58 he registered at April’s nationals.
However, as we reported, Milak has dropped out of the World Championships due to mental and physical fatigue. That opens the door for Honda to make his move to the top of the podium in Fukuoka.
Although Honda admitted this week that Milak’s absence “makes the gold medal closer”, he’ll still have the likes of China’s Chen Juner, the United States’ Carson Foster and France’s Leon Marchand among those which he’ll need to fend off later this month.
But Honda’s aforementioned personal best holds a near one-second advantage over the best-ever times the rest of the current contenders have posted in their careers. If Honda can get into the 1:52 territory once again when the medals are on the line in Fukuoka, it’ll be his race to lose.
- Sou Ogata took the men’s 200m back in a time of 1:58.37, representing the sole competitor to get under the 2:01 threshold. He’ll be taking on the 200m IM in Fukuoka.
- Nagisa Ikemoto took gold in both the women’s 100m and 200m freestyle events, producing times of 1:59.89 and 54.56, respectively. That latter effort sits just .25 outside the 20-year-old’s personal best of 54.31 hit at the World Trials.
- 19-year-old Konosuke Yanagimoto posted a winning time of 1:48.97 in the 200m free and 49.99 in the 100m free as the gold medalist in each. He beat the 200m free field by over 3 seconds.
- Double Olympic champion Yui Ohashi put up an effort of 2:11.76 to take the women’s 200m IM race. That’s just .76 outside of the 2:11.00 she scored at World Trials to take the silver behind winner Mio Narita (2:10.91) with both qualifying for this month’s World Championships in the event.