TOKYO, Japan, October 17. JAPAN is following up a successful summer in the pool that included 11 Olympic medals with a roster of 29 for December's world championships in Istanbul, Turkey.
Akihiro Yamaguchi, who set the long course 200 breaststroke world record last month, will be one of the stars of the Japanese team that will also include Olympic medalists Kosuke Hagino (bronze, men's 400 IM), Takuro Fujii (silver, men's 400 medley relay) and Haruka Ueda (bronze, women's 400 medley relay).
Like Yamaguchi, Kenta Ito is a rising star in the Japanese swimming ranks and could help Japan improve in the sprint freestyles. Early last month, he broke the national record in the 50 free while swimming at the Japanese Inter-University championships with a 22.05. Ito also swam the fastest long course 100 free by a Japanese swimmer this year at that meet with a 48.70.
Though he did not win a medal, Kazuki Watanabe raced in the 200 backstroke Olympic final in London, placing sixth.
Three of the swimmers on the roster have made their mark on the FINA World Cup circuit. Daiya Seto has improved steadily at all four meets so far, posting superb times in the individual medley events. Yuki Shirai has been a force in the backstroke events, winning the 200 distance at both European meets so far. And Fumiko Kawanabe was unstoppable in the 200 breast, winning the race in both meets in the Middle East leg of the tour.
Also on the list is 34-year-old Noriko Inada, who continues to place near the top of the Japanese rankings. Inada was a member of the 1992, 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games, finishing fifth in the 100 back in 2000. She just missed making the 2012 Olympic team, placing third in the 100 back and missing second place by seven hundredths of a second. While training in the United States at Phoenix Swim Club, Inada regularly breaks Masters world records and races at various sectional meets.
Noticeably absent from the roster are Olympic medalists Ryosuke Irie (100 and 200 back), Takeshi Matsuda (200 fly) and Ryo Tateishi (200 breast) on the men's side. Satomi Suzuki, who collected three medals in London (100 and 200 breast, 400 medley relay), as well as 200 fly bronze medalist Natomi Hoshi will not be competing in Turkey. And though he has announced plans to train for a fifth Olympic Games appearance, Kosuke Kitajima has not made his post-Olympic competition plans public.
Norimasa Hirai will be the team's head coach. He led the Japanese team to one of its most successful Olympic Games in London, and coached Yamaguchi to his 200 breast world record. He's set to train Hagino as well in the spring at Toyo University.
The full roster:
Special thanks to Takahisa Ide for contributing to this story.