By Hideki Mochizuki
TOKYO, Japan, February 23. DURING the first day of the Japanese Short Course National Championships held in Tokyo, Reiko Nakamura and Yuko Nakanishi eclipsed a pair of world records.
Nakamura broke the 200 backstroke record with a blazing time of 2:03.24 to surpass the mark set by Natalie Coughlin with a 2:03.62 on Nov. 27, 2001. Nakamura split the race 29.11, 1:00.25, 1:31.79 before claiming the global standard in the final stretch.
"I was aiming to break the record today but I am a bit surprised." Nakamura said right after the race. "Well, the world is moving ahead, so I needed to catch up with that pace. Based on today's result, I will do my best for Olympic Trials in April."
Nakamura is training with Kosuke Kitajima at the Tokyo Swimming Center club under Coach Norimasa Hirai. Japan will hold its Trials from April 15-20 at Tokyo's Tatsumi International Swimming Center. Finishing second, Hanae Itoh also finished a satisfactory 2:04.66.
The second world record performance came two races later as Nakanishi captured the 200 fly standard.
Nakanishi, a bronze medalist from Athens in the same event, started off at swift pace with 28.25, 59.50, 1.31.26 and touching at 2:03.12. The swim eclipsed the 2:03.53 record set by Otylia Jedrzejczak on Dec. 13, 2007.
"I am simply happy," Nakanishi said. "In the past, I tried to break this record twice and it did not come true. This was truly a good third time."
Both world-record breakers received 2 million yen each (about $18,000 US) for the performance by the meet sponsor.
Kitajima also showed his preparation for Beijing is on track. Swimming in prelims with the Japanese record of 57.89, he broke it again in evening final at 57.62 touching first 50m at 27.14.
"I thought I was just breaking the WR (57.47) but it just did not happen," Kitajima said. "Overall, under current circumstances, I am swimming well as today's performance is at least my personal best. I will shoot for the long course world record in the upcoming Olympic Trials in April."
Other Japanese records also fell:
200m freestyle 1:44.72 by Shogo Hihara
100m IM 52.91 by Hisayoshi Sato
50m backstroke 23.88 by Tomomi Morita
50m freestyle 21.94 by Hisayoshi Sato
200m backstroke 1:53.01 by Tomomi Morita
50m butterfly 25.95 by Yuka Kato (Kato marked 25.99 in morning heat.)
100m breaststroke 1:06.18 by Asami Kitagawa