Sans Ikee, Japanese Women Clock 4×100 Free Relay NR, Qualify For Tokyo

2019 FINA WORLD AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS

While competing on day 1 of the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju, Korea, the Japanese women fought their way to a new National Record in the 4x100m freestyle relay.

With National Record holder, Pan Pacs champion and 2018 Asian Games MVP Rikako Ikee missing from this competition due to battling leukemia, the foursome of Rika Omoto, Tomomi Aoki, Aya Sato and Rio Shriai combined to clock a prelims time of 3:36.17 to claim the 5th seed in yesterday morning’s session.

Splits for the foursome include 54.21 for Omoto, 54.01 for Aoki, 53.98 for Sato and 53.97 for Shirai. The total prelims time of 3:36.17 overtook the previous Japanse National Record in the event, which stood at the 3:36.52 notched at last year’s Asian Games.

In that contest, in which Japan won gold, splits included 53.60 for Ikee, 54.81 for Natsumi Sakai, 54.21 for Aoki and 53.90 for Igarashi.

For Omoto’s 54.21 lead-off yesterday, her opening split beats her previous individual PB of 54.26 that registered her as the 4th fastest Japanese performer in history.

Japan ultimately added slightly in the final to wind up 7th in a time of 3:36.79. Splits in the final include 54.62 for Aoki, 53.91 for Sato, 54.23 for Shirai and 54.03 for Omoto.

Regardless, Japan’s finish renders them qualified for their home Olympic Games next year in Tokyo, an Olympics in which star Ikee still hopes to compete.

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Aquajosh

Runa Imai split a 53 at WUGS, so if Ikee is able to come back, that bodes well for this relay.

Ben

It’s good to know that Japan is still decent without their main star. Hopefully Ikee can get through this, and whether she’s ready for Tokyo or not, she’ll be back with a vengeance when she’s ready.

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