By Shunichi Fujishima, Swimming World College Intern.
Swimmers who have made the finalized roster for the 17th FINA World Championships in Budapest will be competing for the first time as a National Team member this year at the annual Japan Open, which will be taking place from May 19-21. The Japan Open is always held a month after Japanese Nationals and is a international meet. This year, the British National Team, as well as the members of the Australian Junior National Team are set to compete at Japan Open.
Here are the five most exciting races to follow at the 2017 Japan Open:
1. Adam Peaty’s 100 Breaststroke
Swim meets are about racing opponents. But this isn’t true anymore for Adam Peaty…at ANY level of competition. The only swimmer that could potentially come close is Koseki Yasuhiro, with a 59.37. Koseki broke the Japanese record in the 50 breaststroke at nationals, which will definitely help set him up for the 100. On top of that, the British team is coming straight from their training trip in Thailand could mean a worn-out Peaty. The two breaststrokers will go head-to-head on day 1 of the Japan Open.
2. The Race of Up and Comers: 200 Fly
This event at the Japan Open will be a close race between Masato Sakai, Daiya Seto, and James Guy. Sakai and Seto have the top two times in the world this year with a 1.53.71 and 1:54.28, respectively. With this event open to anybody because of Michael Phelps‘s retirement, it will be interesting to see who steps it up to claim the title at the World Championships this summer. Both prelims and finals for the 200 Fly will take place on Friday.
3. Showdown in the 400 IM
The Japanese have won the 400 IM at almost every international competition since 2012 Short Course World Championships. With Seto barely out-touching Hagino Kosuke by 0.01 seconds at this year’s Japanese Nationals, it will be a highly competitive event between the two superstars. Their only main competition would be Max Litchfield of Great Britain and Takeharu Fujimori. Ippei Watanabe, who clocked a world record earlier this year, is also entered in the 400 IM.
On the women’s side, all eyes will be on Yui Ohashi, Hannah Miley, and Siobhan-Marie O’Connor. Ohashi broke the Japanese National Record by three seconds at Nationals, posting the world’s best time this year. Miley has the second best time with a 4:32.12. You can’t underestimate O’Connor, the defending Olympic silver medalist. The prelims for both the men and women’s 400 IM are scheduled to take place Saturday morning, Pacific Time.
4. The 200 Breaststroke
You never know what to expect from the Japanese breaststroker Ippei Watanabe. He broke the Olympic Record during the semi-finals of the Rio Olympics. He then broke the 2:07 barrier with a world record of 2:06.67 mid-season in January, which shocked a ton of people in the swimming community. His only rival at this competition would be Yasuhiro, who made a swift comeback on the last 50 to beat Watanabe at Nationals, clocking a best time of 2:07.18. The showdown between the two Japanese men will take place on the final day of Japan Open.
Jocelyn Ulyett of Great Britain is one to watch as well on the women’s side. She started off with a best time of 2:28.40 last season, then dropped down to a 2:22.08 at British Nationals– a significant drop in a year!
5. Teen Phenom Rikako Ikee
Rikako Ikee will be competing in four events at the Japan Open and is expected to win all of them. She is currently a Japanese record holder in 11 events. She swept the 2017 Japanese Nationals in all five of her events. Ikee is the World Junior record holder in the fly events. It will be interesting to see what she can do in her 100 fly. Ikee will be swimming 200 freestyle on Friday, 50 fly and 100 freestyle on Saturday, and 100 fly on Sunday.
Follow the meet here:
All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.