TOKYO, Japan, February 21. THE short course meter Japan Open began today at the Tatsumi International Aquatic Center as several national records fell during the first evening of competition.
Zhang Lin posted a Chinese national record in the men's 1500 free with a time of 14:22.47. That performance crushed his standard of 14:36.12 set in 2006. Haruka Ueda followed with a Japanese record in the women's 200 free when she won in 1:53.72. That effort wiped out the previous record of 1:54.99. China's Pang Jiaying took second in 1:54.87 to beat the 1:54.90 set by Yang Yu that stood as the Chinese record since 2003.
Zhang returned in the men's 200 free to defeat American Peter Vanderkaay, 1:43.04 to 1:43.81. Zhang's time squashed his previous Chinese record of 1:45.14 set in 2004. Syogo Hihara finished third in 1:43.86 for Japan to lower his national record of 1:44.72 set in 2008. Vanderkaay had a tough swim as his suit ripped during the race and his back appeared wide open throughout most of his swim.
China's Zhao Jing cleared a minute in the women's 100 IM with a 59.38 to break her prelim national record of 1:00.50. Meanwhile, Japan's Asami Kitagawa nearly broke the 1:00 barrier with a second-place 1:00.01 that beat her national record of 1:00.72 also set during prelims.
Japan's Junya Koga smacked the national record in the men's 50 back with a time of 23.46. The time cleared the 23.88 set by Tomomi Morita last year. China's Sun Xiaofei tied the Chinese record with a third-place 23.73, while South Africa's Gerhard Zandberg took fifth in 24.66.
Sweden's Therese Alshammar blasted her national record in the women's 50 fly with a time of 25.13 to win the event. Her previous best had been a 25.31 set in 2008. Her time also threatened the world record of 24.99 set by Marieke Guehrer last year in Berlin. Alshammar would also win the 50 free in 24.16.
Japan's Ayako Doi finished second to Alshammar in the 50 fly in 25.91 to best Yuka Katou's national record of 25.95 from 2008, while China's Jiao Liuyang checked in with a third-place 25.92. That swim bettered the Chinese record of 26.30 set by Xu Yanwei in 2005.
Makoto Itou stopped the clock in 21.60 in the men's 50 free for a Japanese record as he beat the 21.94 set by Hisayoshi Satou last year. Maiko Fujino followed as the first Japanese woman under 4:30 in the women's 400 IM. She posted a 4:29.77 to beat the 4:32.46 she'd set in 2006.
China's Liu Weijia demolished the national record of his country with a 4:04.53 in the men's 400 IM. Wu Peng owned the old record with a 4:09.89 from 2004. Hidemasa Sano placed second in 4:05.15 to lower his Japanese record of 4:05.46 from 2006.
Hanae Ito (2:03.01) and Shiho Sakai (2:03.04) both beat Reiko Nakamura's Japanese record of 2:03.24 in the women's 200 back. Additionally, Ryosuke Irie torched the Japanese record in the men's 200 back with a time of 1:49.92. Irie set the previous record with a 1:51.34 in Berlin last year. Irie split the swim 26.15, 54.02, 1:22.19.
"I am happy to have broken the 1:50 barrier," Irie said. "I am still not coming into the meet on perfect taper because I have been putting a lot of mileage on now. The latter half of the race felt good. To be within the top three in the world, an underwater kick after the turn and a faster first 100 meters would be needed. I will be shooting for a medal in Rome this summer."
Kitagawa returned at the end of the evening for a women's 100 breast battle with Australia's Jade Edmistone. Kitagawa hit the wall first with a 1:05.17 to 1:05.45 victory to also claim the Japanese record.
With Olympic champion Kosuke Kitajima taking a hiatus, his Japanese records are in play for other breaststrokers. One went down this evening as Ryo Tateishi clocked a swift time of 57.55. The readout clipped Kitajima's 57.62 set last year at this meet.
"I heard the crowd, and thought I had a chance at the record," Tateishi said. "I still have a long way to go to show the same quality of performance at Kitajima, but today was really good as I settled down on the mental side. I also caught the water well during my stroke. My next goal is to be selected for the national team that will compete at the World Championships."
Special thanks to Hideki Mochizuki for contributing to this report.