TANAKA SMOKES JAPANESE NATIONAL RECORD -- April 20, 2000
TOKYO, April 20. Masami Tanaka, Susumu Tabuchi and and Kasuke Kitajima vaulted into Olympic medal contention today with impressive national records on the second day of the Japanese National Swimming Championships in Tokyo.
Tanaka, who last year won short course world titles in the 100 and 200 meter breaststroke in Hong Kong, showed she can swim long course as well, twice obliterating the national record in the women's 100 meter breaststroke. Tanaka swam 1:07.88 in prelims, then followed up with a 1:07.38 in semi-finals. The latter performance vaults her ahead of Americans Megan Quann and Kristy Kowal to number two on the all-time performers list. Only Penny Heyns has swum faster. It is also this year's top performance.
The men's 100 meter breaststroke saw 17-year-old newcomer, Kosuke Kitajima, upset veterans Akira Hayashi and Ryosuke Imai to set a national record of 1:01.41. Hayashi also broke his own mark in finishing second in 1:01.51.
Susumu Tabuchi, 20, slashed four seconds off the Japanese national mark in the men's 400 meter individual medley when he clocked 4:16.04. Only America's Tom Wilkens has swum faster this year. Also under the old mark of 4:20.07 set by Takahiro Fujimoto at the 1992 Olympics, was Shinya Taniguchi, at 4:19.65.
Mai Nakamura set a Japanese record in winning the women's 100 meter backstroke in 1:00.89, the year's fastest time. Nakamura's time erased the national record of 1:01.06 set by Noriko Inada last year. Inada was second today in 1:01.46.
Junko Onishi was the upset winner of the women's 100 meter butterfly in 59.01, second fastest time in Japanese history. Only Ayari Aoyama has swum faster. Maki Mita, who swam a personal best 59.23 in semis, was second in 59.63, with Tomoko Hagiwara third in 59.68. Aoyama, the pre-meet favorite, was a badly beaten fifth (1:00.49).
Suzu Chiba won the women's 200 meter freestyle, as expected, though her time of 2:00.54 was disappointing. Chiba, Japan's premier 100 and 200 meter freestyler, was looking to swim under 1:59. Three other women swam 2:01.5 or faster, presaging a strong 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay team for Japan: Eri Yamanoi (2:01.07), Sachiko Yamada (2:01.34) and Naoko Imoto (2:01.51).