TOKYO, Japan, April 16. A trio of swimmers put together some nearly top-ranked times throughout the course of the fourth day at the Japanese Long Course Nationals.
The men's 200 free finale featured some splendid swimming. Takeshi Matsuda rocketed to victory with a sterling time of 1:47.01. He nearly became only the third swimmer this year to clear 1:47 as he now stands third in the world rankings. Only young Yannick Agnel (1:46.83) and Tae Hwan Park (1:46.98) have been faster than the swift Matsuda. Yoshihiro Okumura placed second with a strong time of his own as he posted a 1:47.60. That time moved him up to seventh in the world rankings among the likes of Paul Biedermann and Thomas Fraser-Holmes. Syunsuke Kuzuhara rounded out the top three in 1:48.19 to rank 15th in the world.
Takurou Fujii and Masayuki Kishida put on a show in the men's 100 fly with the second and third fastest times in the world this year. Fujii had too much in the final 50 for Kishida to emerge victorious with a smoking 51.94. Kishida, meanwhile, claimed second in 51.98. Fujii edged closer to Andrew Lauterstein's top-ranked time of 51.79 from March, while Kishida became just the third man this year under 52 seconds. During the course of this meet, Fujii and Kishida have clocked four of the top five times in the world this year.
Junpei Higashi walked away with the men's 1500 free title in 15:11.83, an effort that pushed him to fourth in the world rankings this year. He still has some ground to make up to catch the top three of Ryan Cochrane (14:56.83), Robert Hurley (15:00.96) and Sebastien Rouault (15:04.87). Yousuke Miyamoto finished second tonight in 15:19.06, while Kenichi Doki earned third in 15:20.48.
Tomoyo Fukuda overtook Yuka Katou for the women's 100 fly triumph, 58.48 to 58.86. Fukuda improved to seventh in the world this year, while Katou jumped into the top 15. Rino Hosoda completed the top three in 59.12.
Haruka Ueda turned in a 1:58.52 to win the women's 200 free crown. She moved into 11th in the world rankings this year. Hanae Ito finished second in 1:59.80, while Risa Sekine wound up third in 2:01.02.
A pair of semifinal events took place as well this evening. Shiho Sakai paced qualifying in the women's 200 back with a 2:10.02, while Marie Kamimura qualified second in 2:10.35. Meanwhile, Ryosuke Irie turned in a swift 1:56.81 to top the men's 200 back semifinal round. Irie already has the fastest time in the world this year with a 1:55.11 from Osaka in February, and will be looking to turn up the heat in the finale tomorrow.
Maiko Fujino led the way in preliminary qualifying for the women's 800 free. She clocked a time of 8:39.74.