2021 JAPAN OPEN
- Thursday, February 4th – Sunday, February 7th
- Tokyo Aquatics Centre
- LCM (50m)
- Entry List (in Japanese)
- SwimSwam Preview
- Day 1 Finals/Day 2 Finals/Day 3 Finals
In addition to Shoma Sato‘s 2:06.74 scorcher in the men’s 200m breaststroke, a quiet milestone was achieved in the women’s 50m freestyle tonight at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
Although Omoto topped the podium in a quicker 24.75 this evening, the significance of Ikee’s swim is that her 24.91 represents her first outing under the 25-second barrier since her inspiring comeback.
After more than 594 days away from competition, Ikee returned to racing at the Tokyo Special Swimming Tournament last August, where she logged a 50m freestyle time of 26.32. The multi-national record holder followed that up with an even quicker 25.62 at Japan’s Student Swimming Championships the first weekend of October.
Flash forward to tonight and Ikee is now already hitting this sold 24.91, within realistic striking distance of the 24.46 minimum Olympic time standard set by the Japanese Swimming Federation (JASF).
Speaking to Yahoo! Japan post-race, Ikee said, “I was happy to achieve my goal of getting under 25-seconds.”
Ikee spoke to the fact she is still not up to her ‘fighting weight’ since beating leukemia, something she said impacts her momentum and explosiveness off the blocks. “Weight is the cause of my being separated in the first 15 meters of the race.
“In training camp, I’ve focused on getting my weight back. I originally dropped a little over 15 kilos (33 pounds) but now I’m only about 5 kilos (11 pounds)off my previous weight.”
Ikee continued, “The more weight you gain, the more you can move forward off the blocks.”
Ikee said of the prospect of competing at a home Games, “I can’t say I’m aiming for the Tokyo Olympics this year without overdoing it, so I think it’s good to grow little by little. I want to do it without rushing there. I don’t think we’re at that stage yet.”
Although Ikee is downplaying any ambition of competing at this year’s postponed Olympic Games, the fact that she is approaching the standard needed to qualify is simply encouraging in and of itself.