Shioura Becomes First Japanese Man Under 22 in 50 Free to Close Japanese Nationals

Women’s 50 Freestyle – FINALS

Among the greatest weaknesses in all of Japanese swimming is the women’s sprint freestyles; however, fortunately the federation continues to cut them some slack in qualifying standards, so four were under the mark required for the Pan Pac Championships (though a maximum of three can go).

That group was led by 18-year old Miki Uchida, who swam a 25.49 for the victory. That’s a little bit of redemption for her after last year’s championship, where she stumbled and inexplicably slid into the B-Final.

Last year’s champion Yayoi Matsumoto took 2nd in 25.51, followed by Misaki Yamaguchi in 25.74. 13-year old Rikako Ikee (yes, that’s born in the year 2000) took 4th in 25.80, which rounded out the group under the qualifying standard. That is not a Japanese age record for Ikee, but still a noteworthy time from a swimmer so young.

Men’s 50 Freestyle – FINALS

Men’s sprinting in Japan used to be in the same position as women’s sprinting, requiring especially slow qualifying standards to give competitors at least a nibble at qualifying for bigger meets.

In fact, a swimmer could qualify for the Pan Pacs team this year and not even be in the world’s top 40 (and it’s only April).

But those standards may have to start coming down following Sunday’s final. There, Shinri Shioura broke the National Record in the 50 free and became the first Japanese man under 22 seconds when he posted a 21.88 for the win.

That broke his own World Record set at Worlds in 22.02, and also broke the Asian Record set by China’s Ning Zetao last September at 21.91.

The swim also pushes Shioura into the top 5 in the world rankings.

2014 LCM Men 50 Free TYR World Ranking

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To show how ‘out of place’ that swim really is in Japan: it would have placed no lower than 2nd at any short course Japanese Championship until this year’s. That’s short course, with an extra turn.

The whole of the Japanese men’s sprint group really stepped up in this final.

Kenta Ito, who is great in short course himself, took 2nd in 22.36, followed by Katsumi Nakamura in 22.38. All were well under the 22.76 mandated for Pan Pacs qualifying in the event.

The rest of the field was crowded with veterans on the wrong side of their 20’s, including 27-year old Yuuki Kawachi who took 4th in 22.62.

Women’s 200 Backstroke – FINALS

The women’s 200 backstroke field isn’t much better than their 100 backstroke field, however fortunately for the Japanese women the qualifying standard is just slightly more forgiving. That allowed 19-year old Marie Kammura slide under it, just barely, in 2:09.76 to earn her ticket to the Gold Coast.

That’s about two-and-a-half seconds faster than she was to place 4th at this meet last year, so a big improvement for her in a year.

Unfortunately, as she improved, the defending champion Sayaka Akase added about a second, and she took 2nd in 2:10.34 – short of the qualifying standard.

Anna Konishi was 3rd in 2:11.95.

Men’s 200 Backstroke – FINALS

There was a lot of buildup into this men’s 200 backstroke final, and the race didn’t fail to satisfy.

As expected, Ryosuke Irie went out hard and held over a second lead at the final turn. But Kosuke Hagino has fantastic endurance, and he made a big charge at the end, clawing back just shy of a nine-tenths of a second over the last 50 meters.

That gave the audience just enough to think about, but it left Hagino just short. Irie touched in 1:53.91 for the win, and Hagino took 2nd in 1:54.23.

Those are easily the world’s two fastest times in 2014; nobody else has been within a second of them this year.

2014 LCM Men 200 Back TYR World Ranking

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The 3rd-place finisher Yuuki Shirai was also under the qualifying standard, and in fact into a thin world top 10 so far, with a 1:57.32. Hayate Matubara (1:57.65) and Masaki Kaneko (1:58.08) completed the top 5.

Women’s 100 Fly – FINALS

Natsumi Hoshi topped the women’s 50 fly with a back-half-heavy 58.81. Though at the final touch, she had more than a half-a-second cushion, it was not so for most of the way, as she actually turned 3rd (and half-a-second behind Tomoyo Fukuda).

Hoshi’s splits were 27.83 and 30.98.

Rino Hosada took 2nd in 59.40, and Fukuda faded to 3rd in 59.48. All three were under the Pan Pacs qualifying standard, as was the 4th-place finisher Suzuka Hasegawa (59.77).

Men’s 100 Fly – FINALS

While many of Japan’s ‘old guard’ has faded from the spotlight, the man bucking that trend is Takuro Fujii, who turns 29 in a week.

Fujii had a fantastic swim (much like Hoshi in the women’s race, he was half-a-second back at the turn) to win in 51.84. That made him the first man in the world under 52 seconds so far this year.

Joining him under that important, if arbitrary, barrier was Hirofumi Ikebata in 51.98. That improves him all the way up from 5th at last year’s championship.

2014 LCM Men 100 Fly TYR World Ranking

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3rd place went to 17-year old Takaya Yasue in 52.57.

Women’s 200 Breaststroke – FINALS

The swimmer-of-the-meet on the women’s side has to be 17-year old Kanako Watanabe. On Sunday, she picked up her 3rd individual win of the meet and broke her 2nd Junior National Record with a 2:21.09. That left her within four-tenths of the senior National Record in the event, that belongs to Rie Kaneto – the 2nd-place finisher in this final.

Kaneto swam a 2:21.58, and she and Watanabe will share the honor of favorite headed into both Pan Pacs and the Asian Games (almost regardless of where their real focus is).

Mio Motegi will join them on the summer tour after taking 3rd in 2:23.81.

Men’s 200 Breaststroke – FINALS

The men’s 200 breaststroke final wasn’t as much notable for who won it as it is for who didn’t win it.

But first, the just deserts to the winners: Kazuki Kohinata took the top spot in 2:09.67, followed by Yuuta Ohiskiri (2:10.23) and Yukihiro Takahashi (2:10.24).

This means that the World Record holder, Akihiro Yamaguchi, will be out of the summer’s championships after placing 4th in 2:10.33.

Yamaguchi has had a strange career arc since breaking the World Record in this race in 2012 just days after his 18th birthday. His speed was building into that meet, but ever since then has gone backward. He won the Japanese title last year, but was over two seconds away from his record, and this year added another second to miss the team altogether.

It seems like whether physical or psychological, there must be more to that story, but as of yet we don’t know what more might be.

Full meet results (in reverse order of swim) available here.

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Philip Johnson
7 years ago

Finally, someone breaks 52 in the fly. Still, bring me back to the days of Phelps vs. Crocker any day.

Reply to  Philip Johnson
7 years ago

Yeahh.. men 100 fly has been stagnant since the last tussle between Phelps and Crocker in 2007 Melbourne.

So stagnant indeed, that Le Clos were able to swim relax in first 50 and then looked around right and left checking out the other swimmers during last 20 meters or so, and yet still winning convincingly. Too easy to make prediction le Clos will win 100-200 fly combo at both Kazan and Rio..

Reply to  aswimfan
7 years ago

What? How about Phelps – Cavic instead?

Reply to  PsychoDad
7 years ago

That was a great rivalry too (although I think it will always be a bit tainted from the suit era). I’m a bigger fan of the Crocker-Phelps rivalry, myself. Cavic nipped Phelps a few times, but he was always the clear underdog. While Phelps was coming up, Crocker was in his prime so it seemed to be more back and forth. One rivalry was more David and Goliath, and the other was more Clash of the Titans, you know?

Still, my favorite victory celebration is Phelps’ 100 fly from his race with Cavic in 2009 Worlds. He doesn’t look happy that he won and became the first man under 50, he looks pissed, like he’s throwing the collective doubt of… Read more »

bobo gigi
Reply to  Philip Johnson
7 years ago

MP was still in 50.65 in 2010, in 50.71 in 2011 and in 50.86 in 2012.
Cavic has been under 51 only during the suits era.

Reply to  bobo gigi
7 years ago

I’ve always thought it was strange how the suits seem to effect some more than others…Cavic, Biedermann, Coventry etc.

bobo gigi
7 years ago

Fantastic Japan championships until the end.
The depth is impressive in so many events with a lot of young talents.
They have 10 girls in 2.26 or faster in the 200 breast.
Our best French girl was today in 2.30! 😥
Great Irie. Great Hagino. Great Watanabe.
They still have to improve their freestyle, especially on the women’s side, but for the rest, it’s very strong.

7 years ago

I am sure there are some challenging story that help explain why Yamaguchi has not been back anywhere near his won WR. If I may draw parallel, Rebecce Brown also broke 200 breast WR and yet she never again got close anywhere to the WR.

Journalists should write more about swimmers personal stories which played big role in their misfortunes (and not just about their fortune).
Example: only by reading an australian newspaper few days ago did I learn that Remy Fairweather (whom I predicted to become major competitor with Ledecky when they were 14) has had problem:
“In the last 18 months have been really tough for me, battling shoulder injuries, and I had really low iron… Read more »

7 years ago

Their women’s 200 breaststroke depth is unreal. The 5th place finisher went 2:24.53, and she’s only 13!

Braden, does Kaneto hold the national record, or does Satomi Suzuki? I think Suzuki does with her 2:20.72 for silver in London.

7 years ago

So what event can we cut out to make room for an 800 medley relay? I would love to see how the Japanese run that event.

Although, gotta say, they really stepped up their 100’s this meet. Impressive all around.

7 years ago

Let me get this clear… The winner of the Japanese 100free (Japan hasn’t finaled in the 100free or the 4x100free in…. how long?) would’ve won French Trials (French has won the last two major championships and have made the podium the last 6 years).

bobo gigi
Reply to  john26
7 years ago

I was harsh with the French championships all week but here your comparison isn’t the best.
Most of the French big names came back from a big training period and were clearly untapered.
You know like me that Manaudou, Agnel and Stravius will be much faster next summer.

7 years ago

These Japanese are swimming lights-out, and not just in events they’re well known for!

7 years ago

The picture next to Ryosuke Irie’s name in the 200m back rankings is actually a photo of Hagino. Needs to change.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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