2021 KOSUKE KITAJIMA CUP
- Friday, January 22nd – Sunday, January 24th
- Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Centre
- LCM (50m)
- SwimSwam Preview
- Initial Entries (in Japanese)
- Day 1 Recap
- Live Stream
Leukemia survivor Rikako Ikee of Japan was in the water today for her first race of the 2021 calendar year. The 20-year-old multi-national record holder and 2018 Asian Games MVP competed here on day 2 of the 2021 Kosuke Kitajima Cup, contesting one of her specialty events of the women’s 100m free.
This is the first time Ikee has raced the 100m free since having been diagnosed with leukemia in February of 2019. Although Ikee had raced at a handful of competitions in the latter half of last year, she stuck to the 50m freestyle as her mind and body re-acclimated to life back in the pool.
In the morning heats of the 100m free here in Tokyo, Ikee posted a time of 56.16 to book her spot in the final. She followed up with an outing of 55.35 to finish in an impressive 4th place in her first 100m free in well over 600 days.
Splitting 26.98/28.37 out of lane number 8, Ikee’s 55.35 fell less than a second off of the first-place finisher’s time of 54.48. That result was logged by Natsumi Sakai.
More importantly, however, is that Ikee’s 55.35 this evening dips under the minimum time requirement needed to compete at the nation’s sole Olympic-qualifying competition, which is the Japan Swim slated for April.
The top 2 swimmers in each event there earn spots on the nation’s roster for Tokyo, provided they each hit the stiff consideration standards.
For the women’s 4x100m free relay, although Japan finished 5th at last year’s World Championships in order to qualify a squad in FINA’s eyes, the top 4 racers still need to average at least 54.42 in the individual 100m free to be named to the Olympic roster. With that in mind, Ikee needs to shave just less than a second off tonight’s effort to put her name on the list for consideration.
Of note, Ikee owns the Japanese national and Asian continental record in the event with the 52.79 she produced at this same Kosuke Kitajima Cup 2 years ago.
You can watch Ikee’s race starting at 1:13:31 (she is in lane 8).