TOKYO, Japan, June 6. DURING the first day of competition at the Japan Open held in Tokyo, Kosuke Kitajima made a statement both in and out of the water. Meanwhile, several other Japanese records fell at the meet.
Kitajima won the men's 100 breast in a national record time of 59.44, improving his stature as the second best in the event behind only world-record holder Brendan Hansen's 59.13. Kitajima surpassed his previous Japanese record of 59.53 set at the 2005 World Championships.
According to various reports from the area, Kitajima also made a statement outside of the water with a T-shirt stating "I am the swimmer" in protest of the ongoing issues between the Japanese Swimming Federation and the swimsuit manufacturers.
"It's a shame Japanese swimmers haven't been permitted to wear the Speedo suit," Kitajima told Reuters about completing the swim in a Speedo LZR Racer. "I'm happy to get the chance. It's a terrific suit. You can see the results for yourselves."
Kitajima wasn't the only star of the meet as Takeshi Matsuda clocked a Japanese record in the men's 200 fly with a time of 1:54.42, clipping Takashi Yamamoto's 2004 standard of 1:54.56 set at the Athens Olympics. The time is the fourth-fastest effort in the world this year behind Pawel Korzeniowski's 1:54.38 and ahead of Nikolai Skvortsov's 1:54.65.
Haruka Ueda followed in the women's 200 free with a national-record time of 1:57.75, breaking the longest-standing Japanese record on the books of 1:58.78 set back in 1999 by Suzu Chiba at the Japanese Nationals. The swim put Ueda into 11th in the world this year behind Aurore Mongel's 1:57.63 and ahead off Annika Liebs' 1:57.83.
The records kept falling in the men's 200 free as Yoshihiro Okumura hit the wall in 1:47.36. He lowered his own record of 1:47.70 set as the lead leg of an 800 free relay at the Santa Clara Invitational. That time broke the previous record set by Takeshi Matsuda in 2006 with a 1:47.83. Thanks to Reaction Time user dunc1952 for the heads up.
Reiko Nakamura then shaved .01 seconds off her women's 100 back national record with a time of 59.82, besting her previous Japanese standard of 59.83 set in April. That moved her into eighth in the world this year behind Hayley McGregory and Zhao Jin's matching 59.81s.
The record book finally had the chance to breathe in the men's 100 back as Ryosuke Irie stopped the clock in 53.95 to win the event, but just missed Tomomi Morita's national record of 53.85 from 2006. Irie's time did, however, vault him into eighth in the world this year behind Thomas Rupprath's 53.92 and ahead of Randall Bal's 53.98.
Ai Shibata walked away with the women's 800 free title in 8:35.18, while Ryoji Sononaka took the men's 1500 free crown in 15:36.00.
Meanwhile, Yuka Katou earned the victory in the women's 100 fly with a time of 58.74, while Nanaka Tamura claimed the women's 100 breast title in 1:08.53.