2019 KONAMI OPEN
- Saturday, February 16th & Sunday, February 17th
- International Swimming Centre, Chiba Prefecture
- Prelims at 9am local (7pm previous night EST)/Finals at 6pm local (4am EST)
- Meet Site
- SwimSwam Preview
The 2019 Konami Open kicked off tonight, but without one of Japan’s main aquatic powerhouses, Rikako Ikee. As the 18-year-old recently announced her shocking leukemia diagnosis just months after earning the first-ever female MVP at an Asian Games, Ikee is sidelined to address her health while her teammates compete this weekend in her honor.
A giant poster is present in the International Swimming Centre where fans, athletes, coaches, officials and anyone with a message of hope and positivity can write it down for Ikee to eventually see.
To get things started in the pool, 24-year-old Daiya Seto continued his on-fire performances with a stellar 4:10.03 400m IM victory. That’s less than a second off of the eye-popping 4:09.25 Seto produced late last month at the Hamamatsu Long Course Championships and also sets a new Konami Open Record.
At that same meet, the newly-minted short course 200m fly World Record holder also fired off a 200m IM stunner of 1:56.98, so we’ll see what the ANA athlete has in the bank for that event tomorrow here in Chiba Prefecture. Seto’s 400m IM time at this same Konami Open last year was a 4:15.75, so he’s already well ahead of schedule.
Of note, 400m IM Olympic champion Kosuke Hagino registered a prelims effort of 4:23.66 for the 7th seed, but opted out of tonight’s final.
Naito Ehara has been rehabilitating his shoulder while continuing to race, but that didn’t deter the 25-year-old Asian Games silver medalist from reaping gold twice tonight. First in the 1500m, Ehara clocked a time of 15:12.93 to top the podium and also enter the world rankings.
His effort checks-in as the 6th fastest time in the world this season and makes Ehara the 2nd fastest Asian behind 5th ranked Atsuya Yoshida. Yoshida registered a mark of 15:12.04 back in September.
Ehara’s next victim was the 200m free, where he topped the field in a mark of 1:48.28 to sit just outside the top 10 performances in the world this season.
The women’s 400m IM Japanese queen also did some damage in her specialty event, taking the win in 4:37.36. She’s been as fast as 4:32.00 this season to rank #1 in the world, but Ohashi’s mark tonight still would have earned silver at the 2018 Asian Games behind her own winning 4:34.58.
Ai Soma broke the meet record in the women’s 100m fly, a field void the aforementioned Ikee who would ordinarily dominate the domestic field. Soma put down a nice 58.79 to take the gold and fall just short of her season-best of 58.25 that ranks her 6th in the world.
Additional winners tonight include Katsumi Nakamura taking the 50m free in 22.05 ahead of domestic rival Shinri Shioura‘s 22.13. Natsumi Sakai was victorious in the women’s 100m back, clocking a new meet record of 1:0035, while Tomomi Aoki beat the women’s 50m breast field in the only sub-31 second time of the field in 30.99.
Ippei Miyamoto topped the men’s 200m breast field by just .03, winning in 2:11.60, while Rio Shirai led the women’s 200m free field in 1:58.52. Chihiro Igarashi also notched a 200m free time under the 1:59 barrier in 1:58.55.