Women’s 100 Backstroke
The Olympics are going to be awesome this year. There are so many swimmers who are so good in so many events…and this 100 back is no exception. On day 4 of the 2012 Japanese Long Course National Championships, Aya Terakawa became the 8th-best swimmer in history with a 59.10 – a new Japanese National Record by .03 seconds and the best time in the world in 2012 – though the Chinese world-leaders from last year have yet to race the event.
But while she was hugely successful, as we’ve seen throughout this meet, the number-two swimmer struggled as Shiho Sakai, only 21 and the 2nd-fastest Japanese backstroker in history, swam a 1:00.50 to miss the 1:00.48 qualifying time set by Japanese Swimming. She was faster in the semifinals though (1:00.45) – so there’s some opening for considerations on that ground, but I’d guess it’s unlikely unless she’s otherwise qualified for the meet.
Noriko Inada, a 33-year old based out of the Phoneix Swim Club’s Masters program, was 3rd in 1:00.57. This was one of the more veteran-dominated events of this meet that has been largely a youth showcase – only one of the top 5 swimmers in this event was born in the 90’s.
Women’s 200 Fly
A new contender emerged in this meet in the 200 fly, with Natsumi Hoshi making a second National Record on the day with her 2:04.69 absolute domination of this race. By the time she came off of the first turn, she had already built a full body-length lead, and with a sub-32 second closing 50 of 31.99 (nobody else in the field was under 33 on the closing length). That’s an outstanding, perfectly-paced swim that broke the National Record by well over a second, and is easily the best time in the world in 2012 (though again, the Chinese pair has yet to swim).
The runners-up Masami Uchikoshi and Yuka Kato were 2nd and 3rd in 2:09.24 and 2:09.57, respectively, neither of which is close to the Olympic qualifying mark.
Women’s 200 IM
In the only other final of the day, we didn’t see a third National Record go down, but Izumi Kato’s 2:11.79 does stand among the top-10 times in the world in 2012 and a personal best. She is an outstanding backstroker (though her butterfly hurts her a lot at the beginning of this event).
The second-and-third place swimmers were both under the FINA A time, but neither was under Japan’s required standard, and 17-year old Miho Teramura misses out on the Olympics with a 2:12.95, as does 15-year old Emu Higuchi with a 2:13.81.
The biggest semi of the day was the men’s 200 breaststroke, where Ryo Tateishi took the top seed in 2:09.02, with 100 champion Kosuke Kitajima in 2nd in 2:09.25. Here’s the thing though – Kitajima had a massive lead, and went into cruise control for the last 50 meters. The same thing happened at this meet last year, though then it was due to an injury. This year, there’s no word of that yet…so don’t be shocked at a 2:07 out of him on Friday in the final.
And meanwhile, another great Japanese breaststroker (as if they needed one) is emerging in 17-year old Akihiro Yamaguchi, who broke the National Junior Record in 2:10.41. Naoya Tomita barely snuck into the final, with a 2:11.92.
In the 200 fly, Takeshi Matsuda showed he still has more after going a best time in the 200 free earlier in the meet. He swam a 1;54.19 for the top seed, followed closely by Hidemasa Sano in 1:55.90.
Yayoi Matumoto (54.37) and Haruka Ueda (54.55) both will be chasing the National Record of 54.33 in finals tonight in the women’s 100 free. And in the men’s race (no Matsuda, as it conflicts with the 200 fly), Takuro Fujii was the top seed in 49.12, followed by the young, and rising, talent Shinri Shioura in 49.72. To see anyone close to a 48.6 in finals would be elative for the Japanese.