2021 TOKYO METRO NEW YEAR’S MEET
- Saturday, January 8th & Sunday, January 9th
- Tatsumi International Swimming Centre
- SCM (25m)
Although not as packed as the previous two years leading up to a home-based Olympic Games, the 2021 Tokyo Metro New Year’s Meet still brought some notable swims on its day one at Tatsumi International Swimming Centre.
The domestic short course meet is the annual precursor to the trio of ‘K’ meets set to unroll in Japan, with the Kosuke Kitajima Cup slated for later this month while the Konami Open and Kirara Cup kickoff in February.
As a side note, the number of competitions being held at Tatsumi will soon be dwindling, as the storied venue is set to transform into an ice rink by the year 2025. Aquatics competitions previously held here will transition to the Olympic Aquatics Centre ongoing.
The women’s competition today was highlighted by Rikako Ikee‘s victory in the women’s 200m freestyle. The 21-year-old produced a winning effort of 1:56.65, comprised of an opening 100m of 55.97 and a back half of 1:00.68.
After the race, Ikee told local media that she was hoping to get into the 1:57 range so the fact she was beneath that threshold and clocked 1:56.65 was a very welcome result.
It was actually at this same meet 3 years ago when Ikee set the Japanese national record in this SCM 200 free, having hit 1:52.94 in the year before her leukemia diagnosis.
Olympic teammate Suzuka Hasegawa was also in action, posting a time of 2:04.92 in the women’s 200m fly. The veteran battled it out with long course national champion Hiroko Makino who touched just .14 later in 2:05.06.
Hasegawa also established her national record in the 2fly at this same meet, although for her it was 4 years ago. In 2017, Hasegawa raced a lifetime best of 2:02.96 to remain as the fastest woman ever from her country.
For the men, 18-year-old Konosuke Yanagimoto got it done in the 200m free, beating the field by over 4 seconds.
Stopping the clock in a time of 1:44.73, Yanagimoto came within striking distance of his lifetime best of 1:44.08 in this event. That career-quickest time sits as the reigning Japanese National High School Record from when he posted it in 2020.
Earlier this year as a 17-year-old, Yanagimoto became the youngest member of the Japanese Olympic swimming team since recently-retired Kosuke Hagino made the squad at the same age for the 2012 London Olympic Games.