Teen Phenom Rikako Ikee Crushes 4 National Records Over 2 Days

SwimSwam’s Swammy Award Winner for 2017’s Female World Junior Swimmer of the Year proved her worth again over the weekend, as Japan’s Rikako Ikee fired off monster swims left and right in Tokyo.  While competing across the two-day Tokyo Metro New Year Championships January 13th and 14th (SCM), 17-year-old Ikee crushed 4 Japanese National Records.

At first glance, it appeared that the teen had also reset 3 World Junior Records in the process. However, even as she surpassed the current WJR in the 200m free, 100m free and 50m fly, Ikee turns 18 in July of this year, which renders her over the age cap of 17 as of December 31st of the year in which the race was performed.

First up at the Tatsumi International Swimming Center, Ikee cranked out a big 1:52.64 SCM 200 freestyle to easily take gold and beat the Japanese national record of 1:53.54 that has stood since 2012. She absolutely obliterated her previous personal best of 1:57.76 captured back in 2014. Ikee’s 1:52.64 checks the teen in as #13 on the all-time 200 SCM freestyle performers in the world.

Ikee’s next victim was the SCM 200 IM, where the Renaissance Kameido swimmer clocked a winning effort of 2:05.41 for another Japanese National Record and another 13th spot among the world’s all-time performers in the event. With her progressive time drops, the teen further builds the case for the 200 IM to possibly be included on her championship schedule along with her signature sprint fly and freestyle races.

Those sprint events are exactly what kicked Ikee’s NR-breaking total up a notch before the weekend was through, as the pint-sized powerhouse produced a scorching 51.62 SCM 100 freestyle and 24.71 SCM 50 butterfly to close out the meet. Both check-in as the fastest marks ever registered by a Japanese woman.

Her 24.71 50m fly result convincingly overtook Ikee’s own 25.14 SCM effort claimed just last fall at the Tokyo stop of the World Cup Series. Ikee’s 100 free mark also slides the teen into the top 10 among list of all-time performers in the 9th slot, while her 50 fly performance garners her an eye-popping 6th spot among the world’s all-time performers.

17-year-old Ikee holds the current LCM World Junior Records in the 50m freestyle, 50m butterfly and 200m IM, as well as the SCM World Junior Records in the 50m fly, 100m fly, and 100m IM.

With the Tokyo Olympics now less than 1000 days away, Ikee’s trajectory has the teen on a path towards host country glory come 2020.

Note, the full meet results have yet to be published, but will appear on this site once available.

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“Pint sized”… And Ikee is tall by the standards of Japanese swimming!

Have the Japanese ever had a Goliath swimmer? Shinri Shioura is the tallest I can think of at about 6ft2, with Haruka Ueda the tallest woman at 5ft9. When you look at Seto, Hagino, Matsuda… They kind of break the ‘have to be big to be fast’ narrative. Technique can overcome a lot!


Rikako ikee is actually a bit of a physical freak of nature. She,s pint sized for a sprinter no doubt. She,s about 1.67 in height which is about 5,5 in feet and inches which is very short for a sprinter but you may ask why I call her a physical freak of nature if she is so small for a sprinter.
The reason I call her a physical freak of nature is despite her small frame and height of 5,5, she has an arm span of about 1.8 meters which is about 5,11.

So yes technique can overcome a lot but rikako ikee actually has some freak physical tools at her disposal.


Indeed, her proportions are incredible. She swam alongside Anderson at World Juniors, and while being almost a foot shorter, her stroke was just as long – Quite odd to watch haha.


Also Freya Anderson (born in 2001) is quite astonishing.. She has a Ledeckian way to split a 100 free with a back-half race absolutely incredible. Not yet a 200 freer like her skills in the 100 free could suggest, but her future is more than interesting.
For women’s free the early 2000 are a sort of golden age (Ruck, Ikee, Oleksiak, Steenbergen, Anderson and others)


I agree, her 100 is an oddity right now – Her 50fr (25.4) and 200fr (2.00.4) don’t suggest a 53.88 (26.69/27.19) in any way at all. Then again, her 400fr (4.14 but capable of much faster IMO) combined with 53s speed suggests she should we well under 2mins. Alas, she was originally a breaststroker, and free/fly are more recent ventures so she is still learning.

Certainly a hugely talented generation, with the likes of Comerford, Shayna Jack, Menghui & Manuel not *that much* older also very speedy.


Yes, rikako ikee,s proportions are incredible. I got them wrong though. Her height is 1.70, which is about 5,6. Her arm span is 1.85 which is 6,1.
So a 5,6 woman with an arm span of 6,1. That is the defination of freaky.

Zhu menghui is also a new upcoming sprint talent. I,ve also wondered what Liu xiang could do in the 100 free. She has speed in the 50 free as she holds the Asian record in the 50 free at 24.04 (she swam that time in september of last year) and could be the first asian woman under 24 secs in the 50 free. Menghui and xiang could form the backbone of a Chinese 4×100 free relay.

Emma Fang

Liu xiang’s progress is amazing. She did 55.27 in 100 free in a recent domestic game.She is bursting with great energy.

Honest observer

Joseph Schooling is built similarly. He’s got to be the shortest guy in the waiting room for the 100 fly at NCAAs, Worlds and the Olympics, but his wingspan looks as if it’s at least the equal of his competitors’. And wingspan is roughly 90% of the advantage of being tall in swimming.

tea rex

I was about to post the same thing – I have never heard a 170 cm / 5’6″ woman described as “pint-sized” (maybe 1-2 inches shorter than Natalie Coughlin?), but I guess this is elite swimming we are talking about.

Anyway, Ikee’s IM is VERY impressive, with plenty of room to improve in bk/br. And 51.6 / 24.71 fly is world-class at any age – It took Jeanette Ottesen, Inge Dekker, or Dana Vollmer into their mid-20s to hit similar times.


Its not yet ratified, but I believe Taylor Ruck was a 1:52.5 200fr at the 2016 World Short Course Champs


Already ratified, so Ikee’s 1.52.64 is “only” Japanese National record. Instead, are WJRs both the 51.62 in the 100 free (previous WJR was Oleksiak’s 52.01 swum at Windsor2016) and the 24.71 in the 50 fly (previous WJR was Ikee’s 25.14). Apart WJRs o NRs, great performances indeed from Rikako Ikee. Swimming in a January meet, Ikee – with her absolute lack of power in the turns with regards to Kromo, Hosszu and the other SC specialists – is , by now, just 33 hundredths of a second shy the (absolute) WR in the 50 fly swum by Therese Alshammer (24.38). Fascinating her perspectives in the medley races (100 and 200 im in SCM, 200 im in LCM) if she will… Read more »

nuotofan – Ruck’s WJR has not been ratified, at least not publicly, by FINA. You can see the latest update to the currently-recognized records here: https://www.fina.org/sites/default/files/wr_jr_nov_3_2017.pdf


Hi Braden. I reminded the recent SC EuroChamps in Copenhagen where was displayed as WJR the 1.52.50 swum by Taylor Ruck at Windsor on 6 December 2016.
It was the Len graphics (by Multimedia), so I thought that, after 12 months, even Fina had ratified it..

Sum Ting Wong

Ikee is no longer a junior hence no WJR .

About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

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