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Kitajima Just Misses World Record, One-Minute Barrier in 100m Breast as Three National Marks Tumble on Day 5 of Japanese Championships -- April 28, 2003

By Hideki Mochizuki, Josh Jeffrey and Takahisa Ide

TOKYO, April 27. THE fifth day of the Japanese Nationals resulted in three new Japanese national records, and showcased the emergence of Kosuke Kitajima as the world's best male breaststroker today.

Kitajima, Japan's top world-ranked swimmer, and the only 200 meter breaststroker ever to dip below 2:10 sent a resounding message to Mssrs Sloudnov, Moses, and Hansen today: COME AND GET ME.

After what he considered to be a disappointing performance in the 200 meter breaststroke, Kitajima bounced back tonight during the semifinals of the men's 100 breaststroke to set the pool on fire. Kitajima's time of 1:00.07 seconds makes him the second-fastest man in history only to Roman Sloudnov of Russia, and is just .13 off the world record.

Naturally, this time also resets his old personal best and Japanese/Asian record of 1:00.34. Upon seeing his time, Kosuke jubilantly flashed the V sign for victory, and soon after was already regaining his composure for tomorrow's final, where he hopes to make the message crystal clear to the rest of the world that the road to world titles in Barcelona goes through Tokyo.

Mai Nakamura isn't willing to lay down and let the world pass her by. After winning last night's 100 backstroke final, she's proved she's an oldie but goodie, and tonight, she laid to rest her former Japanese record in the 50 meter backstroke, setting a new mark of 28.63 seconds, lowering the prior mark of 28.67 she set three years ago. The break appears to have invigorated Nakamura, who will no doubt be looking to lower the record further tomorrow night.

Atsushi Nishikori took another Japanese record, this time in the semis of the 50 back with his clocking of 25.83. Not far behind though, was Tomomi Morita (26.03), who took the 100 back title after Nishikori broke the record in semis. Tomorrow should bring a very interesting final.

Sachiko Yamada completed her hat trick of titles, this time easily winning the 800 meter freestyle in 8:30.51 -- the world's fastest time of 2003 and some ten seconds ahead of second place finisher Kanae Iwai (8:40.88). Third place went to Ai Shibata (8:42.26)

The men's 1500 free was won in 15:26.42 by Shunichi Fujita, who had a race the whole way with second place Yu Inoue (15:27.84). Third went to Yuki Ihara (15:32.26).

In other action today, Masami Tanaka (1:09.63) leads qualifiers after semifinals of the women's 100 meter breaststroke, but clearly had competition with Ryoko Maruyama (1:10.08). Unless Tanaka was cruising the semi, which she didn't do in the 200 breast, this should be a very competitive race.

Japanese female swimmers have always shown impressive depth in the 200 butterfly, and finally it appears as though the men are catching up. Five qualifiers posted times under 1:59 in semifinals. Most surprisingly, Takeshi Yamamoto (1:58.91), Asia's most dominant male butterfly specialist, was the fifth qualifier. Takeshi Matsuda (1:58.19) leads a deep field followed by second-qualifier Ryosuke Hishinuma (1:58.59). Barring any significant improvements by the rest of the field, Yamamoto, a 1:56 200 flyer, should win handily.

The women's race however looks to have a clear leader in Yuko Nakanishi, whose 2:09.34 is three seconds ahead of the field. Second qualifier Yurie Yano (2:12.33) will have a lot of ground to make up to keep the pace, but will also have her hands full as two other girls qualified with 2:12s.

The other semifinals of the day were the 100 freestyle events, where in the women's race, Tomoko Nagai (56.01) is clearly the favorite, exactly three tenths of a second ahead of second qualifier Atsumi Yamada (56.75). In the men's race, Daisuke Hosokawa (50.78) leads qualifiers for tomorrow's final with Takamitsu Kojima (50.93) close behind.

RESULTS

Women 800m freestyle final
Rank Name time
1 Sachiko Yamada 8:30.51
2 Kanae Iwai 8:40.88
3 Ai Shibata 8:42.26
4 Yumi Kida 8:46.97
5 Sawami Fujita 8:47.23
6 Shigemi Yamaguchi 8:48.44
7 Madoka Ochi 8:48.74
8 Chika Yonenaga 8:53.09

Men 1500m Freestyle Final
Rank Name time
1 Shunichi Fujita 15:26.42
2 Yu Inoue 15:27.84
3 Yuki Ihara 15:32.26
4 Takehiro Miyajima 15:38.38
5 Gen Ishimura 15:40.15
6 Tsuyoshi Matsumura 15:46.00
7 Atsushi Nagano 15:47.73
8 Yota Arase 15:51.25


Women 100m breast semi-final
Rank Name time
1 Masami Tanaka 1:09.63
2 Ryoko Maruyama 1:10.08
3 Fumiko Kawanabe 1:10.45
4 Sayaka Nakamura 1:10.61
5 Yoshimi Miwa 1:11.09
6 Nanaka Tamura 1:11.20
7 Kahori Sato 1:11.51
8 Kasumi Sakamoto 1:11.70
9 Sayaka Hayashi 1:11.79
10 Sanae Nawata 1:11.89
11 Mami Kida 1:11.99
12 Kae Tsushima 1:12.10
13 Manami Hotta 1:12.11
14 Yuka Nishito 1:12.19
15 Atsuko Sakuma 1:12.42
16 Megumi Taneda 1:12.97

Men 100m breast semi-final
Rank Name time note
1 Kosuke Kitajima 1:00.07 Asian Record
2 Makoto Yamashita 1:01.91
3 Hironari Sakimoto 1:02.00
4 Yoshihisa Yamaguchi 1:02.60
5 Takahiro Otsuka 1:02.82
6 Ryosuke Imai 1:02.83
7 Toshiki Saito 1:02.85
8 Yuki Funai 1:03.01
9 Torataro Morita 1:03.17
10 Shigenori Sato 1:03.23
11 Yoshiyuki Abe 1:03.39
12 Genki Imamura 1:03.41
13 Daisuke Imamura 1:03.64
14 Ryota Yoshida 1:03.76
15 Tsubasa Horiike 1:03.80
16 Yuta Suenaga 1:04.05

Women 200m butterfly semi-final
Rank Name time
1 Yuko Nakanishi 2:09.34
2 Yurie Yano 2:12.33
3 Asako Kitada 2:12.50
4 Yukiko Osada 2:12.58
5 Miki Imai 2:14.29
6 Aya Nitoda 2:14.67
7 Megumi Sasaki 2:15.41
8 Shigemi Negishi 2:15.50
9 Saori Haruguchi 2:15.74
10 Aya Nakanishi 2:15.80
11 Ayaka Kawakami 2:15.99
12 Rina Hayashi 2:16.03
13 Takae Ikukata 2:16.23
14 Yumi Hatta 2:16.82
15 Saori Yamamoto 2:16.95
16 Yuki Onaga 2:17.91


Men 200m butterfly semi-final
Rank Name time
1 Takeshi Matsuda 1:58.19
2 Ryosuke Hishinuma 1:58.59
3 Kentaro Usuda 1:58.67
4 Ryuichi Shibata 1:58.80
5 Takashi Yamamoto 1:58.91
6 Susumu Muto 1:59.78
7 Ryusuke Sakata 2:00.19
8 Yu Kondo 2:00.59
9 Yusuke Aihara 2:00.86
10 Hirotoshi Matsumiya 2:01.63
11 Yohei Kato 2:01.67
12 Koki Minobe 2:02.38
13 Masakazu Yoshii 2:02.42
14 Yasuaki Sekiguchi 2:02.64
15 Yasutake Takamatsu 2:03.45
16 Shunsuke Koba 2:04.21


women 50m backstroke semi-final
Rank Name time
1 Mai Nakamura 28.63 Japan record
2 Noriko Inada 29.24
2 Hanae Ito 29.24
4 Aya Terakawa 29.34
5 Reiko Nakamura 29.36
6 Saori Tanaka 29.53
7 Aya Shimoda 29.78
8 Runa Kobayashi 29.80
9 Chihiro Ikeda 29.81
10 Masaki Oikawa 29.86
11 Yui Sudo 30.06
12 Ai Fukushima 30.15
13 Rina Sogabe 30.17
14 Nobuko Maeda 30.18
15 Eri Tabei 30.19
16 Hiro Tanaka 30.21

Men 50m backstroke semi-final
Rank Name time
1 Atsushi Nishikori 25.83 Japan record
2 Tomomi Morita 26.03
3 Junichi Miyashita 26.08
4 Ryutaro Hayashi 26.23
5 Mizuki Wakabayashi 26.24
6 Kentaro Kitada 26.53
7 Atsuya Koga 26.54
8 Masafumi Yamaguchi 26.60
9 Takanori Mori 26.72
10 Takahiro Kajiyama 26.79
11 Hideaki Aoki 26.80
12 Haruki Takeuchi 26.86
13 Kenta Yamanoi 26.87
14 Takuro Fujii 26.90
15 Takashi Nakano 27.02
16 Daisuke Hayashi 27.19


Women 100m freestyle semi-final
Rank Name Time
1 Tomoko Nagai 56.01
2 Atsumi Yamada 56.75
3 Norie Urabe 56.77
4 Kaori Yamada 56.97
5 Mai Aoyagi 57.12
6 Midori Aoki 57.34
7 Maki Mita 57.45
8 Natsumi Mizuochi 57.53
9 Chiemi Shigeta 57.92
10 Hiromi Takeuchi 58.00
11 Eriko Mashima 58.04
12 Yu Iwasaki 58.12
13 Midori Mukai 58.14
14 Hitomi Nakayama 58.60
15 Sayo Okawa 58.86
16 Junko Sasaki 59.11

Men 100m freestyle semi-final
Rank Name time
1 Daisuke Hosokawa 50.78
2 Takamitsu Kojima 50.93
3 Tomohiro Okuno 50.97
4 Shunsuke Ito 51.05
5 Yukihiro Okumura 51.21
6 Hiroaki Akebe 51.31
7 Yosuke Ichikawa 51.56
8 Yoshitaka Takeuchi 51.57
9 Akihiro Shimizu 51.63
10 Naoki Nakura 51.66
11 Sho Furukawa 51.70
12 Hideaki Hara 51.94
13 Keisho Yamamoto 52.06
14 Yuki Mori 52.13
15 Shusuke Ito 52.15
16 Hironoshin Togashi 53.01