KANAGAWA, Japan, May 25. THE Japan Open continued to produce some outstanding efforts this weekend as some of Japan's best swimmers put on a show this evening.
In what is quickly becoming the heavyweight matchup in Japan, Daiya Seto took down Asian record holder Kosuke Hagino in the men's 400-meter IM, 4:10.90 to 4:11.23. Seto's time shot him to third in the world this year, while Hagino still stands atop the mountain with a blazing Asian-record 4:07.61 from Niigata at the Japanese Nationals earlier this year. Only Thomas Fraser-Holmes of Australia stands between the two Japanese performers with a 4:10.14 from Australian Nationals in Adelaide.
The distance medley tonight proved to be incredibly deep with Hiromasa Fujimori (4:14.02) and Takeharu Fujimori (4:14.13) also entering the top 10 in the world with third and fourth-place finishes. That gives Japan an astonishing four of the top 10 swimmers in the world in this event so far as the Fujimoris now stand eighth and ninth in the world.
The remarkably consistent Ryosuke Irie turned up the heat in the men's 200-meter backstroke with a blazing 1:55.39. He's already the top in the world in the event with a 1:54.72 from the NSW meet in Australia earlier this year, and tonight's time nearly proved to be the second best in the world this year. Only Hagino has been faster with a 1:55.12 also from Sydney earlier this year. Keita Sunama touched out Takahiro Yamazaki for second-place honors, 1:59.78 to 1:59.79.
Miyu Otsuka put on a show in the women's 400-meter IM with a sizzling 4:36.87. That swim fell less than a second off the national record in the event, and vaulted Otsuka to fifth in the world this year. She has a few seconds to make up to catch the likes of world-leading Hannah Miley's 4:34.21 or Ye Shiwen's 4:34.27, but Otsuka definitely has a chance to make some noise this summer in Barcelona. Miho Takahashi (4:40.23) and Sakiko Shimizu (4:40.90) rounded out the top three this evening.
Yuka Kato dominated the women's 50-meter fly with a time of 26.25, moving to 10th in the world in the event this year. Misaki Agou (26.99) and Tomoyo Fukuda (27.12) turned in second and third-place efforts in the event tonight. Shinri Shioura followed up with a 23.78 to win the men's 50-meter fly, while Ryo Takayasu (23.90), Syota Hara (23.94) and Kohei Kawamoto (23.98) all battled for second.
In the sprint breaststroke event, Satomi Suzuki took home the women's 50-meter breast title in 31.94. That swim fell just half-a-second off the national mark. Maya Hamano touched second in 32.11, while Mio Motegi earned third in 32.14. Koichirou Okazaki blasted the men's 50-meter breaststroke event with a 27.42. That swim nearly eclipsed the Japanese record of 27.30, but did move Okazaki up to 10th in the early world rankings. Ryota Nomura and Hiromasa Sakimoto tied for second with matching 27.88s while Kosuke Kitajima wound up fourth in 27.96.
Chihiro Igarashi won the women's 400-meter free by more than a second with a 4:11.66, while Aya Takano took second in 4:13.01. Asami Chida wrapped up the podium with a third-place 4:13.59. Syo Sotodate followed with a 3:50.56 to win the men's 400-meter free. Naito Ehara (3:51.70) and Ryuta Osaki (3:51.72) earned second and third.
Sayaka Akase posted a hard-fought victory in the women's 200-meter backstroke in front of Miyu Otsuka. Akase held off a blazing final 50 meters from Otsuka to win 2:10.20 to 2:10.42. The time is just short of Akase's season best of 2:09.37 from Japanese Nationals that ranks her eighth in the world. Yuka Kawayoke wound up third in 2:12.27.
Yayoi Matsumoto took home the women's 100-meter free title in 55.21, while Miki Uchida finished second in 55.33. Misaki Yamaguchi picked up third in 55.60. Kenta Ito concluded the evening with a 48.92 to win the men's 100-meter free. Yuki Kawachi (49.61) and Hagino (49.77) placed second and third.