Japanese Long Course Nationals: Junya Koga Sets Surprising Asian Record -- April 17, 2009

By Hideki Mochizuki, Swimming World Japanese Correspondent

HAMAMATSU, Japan, April 17. SEVERAL more records took a hit during the second day of swimming at the Japanese Long Course National Championships, including one of the fastest men's 100 backstrokes of all time.

In the morning heats, two Asian records were broken. Ken Takakuwa swam the men's 400 IM in 4:12.56 to crush the former record of 4:14.79 set by Jiro Miki back in 2004. The other fell in the men's 100 back as Junya Koga touched in 53.55 to break the previous record of 53.69 set by Junichi Miyashita at the Beijing Olympics.

Following the morning swim, Koga once again scorched the men's 100 back during finals with a 52.87 – the third-fastest outing of all time. He went out in 25.62, and is now a challenger to Aaron Peirsol's world record of 52.54 set at the Beijing Olympics.

"I did not expect to break 53 seconds," Koga said. "I knew that [Ryosuke] Irie was coming from behind, so that helped to keep the pace. Koga is a senior at Waseda University, and his previous personal best had been a 54.54 coming into the meet. Irie finished second with a 53.19, which lowered his personal best from 53.93.

In the first event during finals, Ryoji Sononaka broke the Japanese record in the men's 1500 free with a time of 15:04.91. That effort beat the 15:06.28 marked by Takeshi Matsuda at the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne.

"I cannot fight against the world unless I beat the Japanese record." Sononaka said after the race. "My next goal is to become the first Japanese man to beat the 15:00 barrier."

Takakuwa came out in the men's 400 IM to beat his Asian record of 4:12.56 from prelims with a top time of 4:12.41 to win the title at night.

In the women's 100 back, Aya Terakawa won the race in 59.67 while Hanae Itoh finished second in 59.86. Terakawa could not hold back the tears as she finally broke a recent long slump in the pool.

"After changing my training environment, I was certainly shooting for revenge." Terakawa said after the race.

Terakawa changed her coach to Norimasa Hirai three months ago. Hirai is best known for coaching Japanese legend Kosuke Kitajima.

Shiho Sakai, who set the short course world record with a 56.15 at the Japan Open in February, unexpectedly finished third in 1:00.09 and will not compete in the event at the World Championships in Rome. Japan's long-standing ace in the event, Reiko Nakamura, retired after the Beijing Games.

Yui Miyamoto won the women's 200 fly for the first time with a 2:07.56. Miyamoto was ranked fifth in the event in 2008 with a 2:08.43. The Japanese national-record holder Yuko Nakanishi is not participating this year.

In the men's 200 fly final, Olympic medalist Takeshi Matsuda took the race out in record pace with a 54.24 at the 100, and touched in 1:23.73 at the 150 mark, but could not hold onto the pace with a 1:53.87 for the win. His Japanese record, posted at the Beijing Games, is a 1:52.97.

Haruka Ueda won the women's 200 free in 1:58.32, which is considered mediocre for her.

"My race just wasn't there," Ueda said. "My hope is 1:55, so three seconds away is not good. I will try to have a good race again at the Japan Open in June."

Syo Uchida completed the evening in the men's 200 free with a time of 1:46.88 for the win. He had to track down Syogo Hihara, who took second in 1:47.25. Uchida trailed Hihara, 52.69 to 53.41, at the 100-meter mark.

"I knew I was swimming from behind," Uchida said. "It was close, but I hoped I could catch up. That is my personal best, so I feel good."

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April 17, 2009 I am getting pretty tired of reading all the griping about the new "fast suits" leading to somewhat perverse times. Swimnews seems to just not be able to let it go. Swimming is getting faster. Period. New swimmers come up through the ranks and want to swim fast. Yes, there is a boost from these suits, but in time things will level out. The problem is not the suits but making sure that there is a regulatory period so that new suits don't simply come out each year leading to a scramble for swimmers trying to grab them. Supply and consistency is the key.

Frankly, it seems to me that swimming has not been this exciting ever.
Submitted by: blastoff
April 17, 2009 Blastoff - Ditto!
Submitted by: mario2007
April 17, 2009 Still, with the 200 breaststrokers coming out of absolute NOWHERE and Koga not being drug tested for almost two years (officially), you start to wonder...
Submitted by: SwimDER94
April 18, 2009 Well if it AI N'T the suits responsible forALL the fast times I don't know what is.

Three guys under 45.0 in finals of 100 fly @ NCAAs?

The winning 200 IMer going just off Lochte's AR?

The runner-up going a time that would have won EVERY otheer NCAAs?

Pascal Wollach (PASCAL WOLLACH?) -- a guy who until SECs had NEVER cracked 47.0 -- going 44.9 leading off Auburn's 400 MR in prelims no less?

Or look @ South Africa's results from today. Three guys sub 49.0 in 100 free semis with 29-year-old Rroland Schoeman leading was @ 48.61 and going 21.79 to win 50 with a couple of 21.8s n heats/semis.

Or Rousseau going 1:55.5 in 200 fly.

He was 1:58 high last year.

Veldhuis going 56.69 in 100 fly @ a "nuthin'" meet?

It's the suits, the suits, and NOTHING but the suits!

Give me a bf
Submitted by: slickwillie32
April 20, 2009 I agree Slickwillie32. Definitely, fishy.
Submitted by: Park528
April 20, 2009 I agree with slickwillie32 also. The suits are a big freaking deal, and they completely change what it means to be a good swimmer. Races and racers of the past are becoming less and less relevant because, despite often superior talent, training, and ability, their times are being eclipsed due to these suits.
Submitted by: swimmingshamrock
April 20, 2009 The Lennart Stekelenberg story out of Holland is a great experiment - he went 59.50 for the 100 breast in a time-trial wearing a Jaked suit (same suit Veldhuis wore for the 100 fly, and Munoz wore for his 22.43 50 fly earlier this month), then he wore an LZR in the final and went 1:01.91. Two-point-five seconds for the same guy on the same day.
Submitted by: FatDrew
April 21, 2009 FatDrew...are these results legitimate? I mean, did Lennart really push to his max wearing the Jaked and cruised wearing the LZR? I knew the suits made a difference but 2.5 seconds? WOW!
Submitted by: paddles
April 21, 2009 The time trial may have been finally a great salvo back at this whole suit proliferation (reports are that he DID try hard in finals).
For a long time we have KNOWN that these suits are performance enhancing. Now we have had a swimmer brave enough to come forward and rather than towing the party line of the swim suit companies and many elite athletes and coaches who refuse to pull their heads out of the sand and be HONEST with themselves about what is causing them to go faster.
We have crossed over into a fantasy land (88 Junior National records at Italian Nats? That's not a fantasy land???) that far too many elite level athletes are quite comfortable in fooling themselves that they have done something "revolutionary" in their training that has made swimming jump so far ahead in 24 months.
Bravo Mr. Stekelenberg! Finally the young boy on the street has arrived to exclaim "THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES!!"
Now take the LZR (or similar tech suit) and pre 2007 results. Take the same amount of time off an any elite athlete's swims (in proportion to race distance) that there showed between the 100 Breast time trial and the final of Mr. Stekelenberg. It is especially useful to use a professional that is in their mid-20' as a minimum (male or female) so as to do our best to eliminate the age/growth factor as a variable.
As many of us have discussed that these numbers might just hold up.
Wow...hey....they start looking just about right back to pre-2007 (some are actually slower...some a little faster, but not much).
Now, I don't want to suggest that there may not be good old fashioned doping going on too. I think we still have some issues there as people are inferring.
But the evidence is starting to pile up.
Look at some of these swims. Most coaches would be thrilled to see age groupers make drops in events like this. It's a LOT harder to make the shifts necessary to have drops like this in elite athletes just based on the sole fact that they are much closer to their "top out" level.
2008 2007 2006
Pellegrini(200fr) 1:54.82* 1:56.47 1:57.93
Bernard (50Fr) :21.49 :21.76 :22.32
Rice(400IM) 4:29.45 4:37.45 4:41.73
Breeden(200fly) 2:06.75 2:09.68 2:11.55
Cavic(100Fly) :50.59 :51.70 no rank
Adlington(800) 8:14.10 8:25.73 8:27.88
*We already know that Pelegini was multiple suited for this race in Beijing which skews things more.
Just a sampling courtesy of the FINA world rankings.
The 2006 results are still world class, but compared to history, they are pretty average swims compared to the VanAllsicks, the Popovs, the Klockovas, the Mary T's, the Crockers and the Evans of history that comes before them.
We are destroying our history and wiping out our future (what this is doing to age group swimming is the next travesty in all this).

Submitted by: rcoach
April 21, 2009 rcoach,
could not agree more get back to swimming!
Submitted by: onehandtoucher
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