The Rise Of Japan’s Rikako Ikee

by Retta Race 5

February 29th, 2016 Asia, International, News

15-year-old Rikako Ikee of Japan has been laying waste to various records throughout the past 6 months, perhaps signaling the young phenom is on the verge of something special come her nation’s Olympic Trials in April.

Last October, Ikee cranked out a new Japanese National Record in the 100 butterfly, winning the race at the 2015 World Cup in Tokyo in a time of 57.56. That not only crushed her mark of 58.28 that won her the 2015 World Junior Championship title, but it also wiped out the old Japanese National Record of 57.77 set by Yuka Kato in 2012.

At that same meet, Ikee then threw down a monster World Junior Record in the 50 butterfly, stopping the clock at 26.17 to overtake the previous mark of 26.26 from 2014. Ikee’s time still sits as 11th-fastest in the world this season for the teenager.

Flash forward to January, and Ikee made history in the 100 freestyle event, representing the first Japanese female to clock a sub-54-second freestyle. She knocked just .01 of a second off of the previous record which stood at 54.00 to register a new record of 53.99.

Then just last month, Ikee scored a new World Junior Record in the 50 freestyle at the Konami Cup. The 15-year-old threw down her nation’s fastest-ever 50m freestyle time, registering an impressive 24.74. Again, at just 15 years old, Ikee now ranks as the 10th-fastest in the world.

With her nation’s Olympic Trials now just less than 2 months away, Ikee is reflecting on just how far she’s come in such a short period of time, but is clearly focused on the tasks ahead.

Immediately after her 53.99 race, Ikee stated in a recent Chicago Tribune article, “I’m so surprised – I can’t understand what has happened. I couldn’t help but cry.” Yet now having time to analyze her swims, she says, “I sometimes wonder whether I can top my records.”

Looking to the near future, Ikee confirms she “wants to move forward confidently”, and states clearly that she “wants to take part in the Rio Games and reach the finals at the World Championships in 2017.”

Beyond that, since she is just 15 years old after all, she “wants to get a medal at the Asian Games and win a title at worlds in 2019”, followed by “winning medals in multiple events – the gold medal would be best” at the 2020 Games in Tokyo….when she’ll be just 19 years old.

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bobo gigi

Rikako is clearly programmed to win gold medals at home in 2020.
Massive talent. Like Marrit Steenbergen from Netherlands. 2 young sprint prodigies.

I’m not sure (I don’t read Japanese) but I’m pretty sure that’s her 53.99 from last January in the 100 free considering my manual timekeeping and the reaction from herself and the audience.
Very smooth stroke.

bobo gigi

Retta, as American don’t forget to keep an eye on 14-year-old Alex Walsh. Considering how long I talk about her on swimswam! 🙂 She’s the American answer to Atherton for the next decade on backstroke and she will be pretty good in the 200 IM too.

And Paolo, you’re right. Taylor Ruck is gonna be tough to beat in the 200 free in the coming years.

bobo gigi

And I’ve also found by chance her 100 fly world junior and Japanese national record from last October in 57.56.

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