TOKYO, Japan, April 6. WITH the Japan Swim now past its midway mark, swimmers are still vying for 2012 London Olympic roster spots in Tokyo. A textile best, national record and world-leading time all went up on the scoreboard in a blistering fast evening of racing.
According to Swimming World Japanese correspondent Hideki Mochizuki, Japan is utilizing a different qualifying standard instead of the FINA A and B cut times. This much-faster cut will be applied by Japan in a similar fashion to the FINA A cut, where Japan will only select two swimmers if they both clock a faster time than the cut.
Men's 100 free
No Olympians will be coming out of the men's 100 free if Japan sticks to its guns regarding its internal Olympic cuts, including its relay add-up of 3:15.90 to nominate a men's 400 free relay. Takuro Fujii topped the event in 49.20, missing the Japanese cut of 48.28 and the FINA A cut of 48.82. However, he did clear the FINA B cut of 50.53. Yuki Kawachi (49.56), Shinri Shioura (49.65) and Kenji Kobase (49.97) all cleared 50 seconds, and along with Fujii, posted an add-up time of 3:18.38, well short of Japan's relay cutoff.
Kazuki Nagura (50.08), Ranmaru Harada (50.12), Katsumi Nakamura (50.15) and Takayuki Minari (50.26) also swam for the title.
Women's 100 free
Haruka Ueda secured an individual swim at the 2012 London Olympic with a national record time of 54.00. The effort bested the national record of 54.33 set by Misaki Yamaguchi at the 2009 Japanese National Sports Festival in Nagaoka, and also clipped the surprisingly difficult Japanese Olympic cut of 54.07. Ueda also jumped to eighth in the world with the performance.
While no one else earned an individual swim, the relay add-up of Ueda, Yayoi Matsumoto (54.80), Miki Uchida (55.08) and Hanae Ito (55.10) of 3:38.98 surpassed the Japanese cut of 3:42.52 required for the country to nominate a relay squad in the event. Notably, Uchida's time lowered a Japanese junior record in the event.
Natsuki Hasegawa placed fifth in 55.21, while now-former record holder Yamaguchi took sixth in 55.52. Mao Kawakami (55.61) and Tomoko Hagiwara (55.78) finished seventh and eighth.
Men's 200 fly
With dreams of a blistering national record around the swimming community, Takeshi Matsuda played it safe making sure he earned a spot on the Olympic roster with a world-leading time of 1:54.01. That time bested his previous pacesetter of 1:54.19, but was well short of his national record of 1:52.97 from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Overall, he tied himself for the 24th-fastest time ever in the event, matching his performance from the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai.
Kazuya Kaneda clocked a 1:55.39 for the second spot on the Olympic team, just edging the Japanese cut of 1:55.65, and moving to fourth in the world behind only Matsuda, Nick D'Arcy (1:54.71) and Michael Phelps (1:55.32).
Ryusuke Sakata took third in 1:55.88 for fifth in the world, while Hidemasa Sano placed fourth in 1:55.97, just off his now-seventh-ranked season best of 1:55.90. The depth of the event in Japan is remarkable with top 10 world swims not making the Olympic cut.
Kenta Hirai (1:56.67), Yuki Kobori (1:56.86), Yuta Kimura (1:57.19) and Takuya Nozawa (1:57.37) also competed in the finale, all with times in the top 25 in the world.
Video of the race:
Men's 200 breast
Kosuke Kitajima clocked a jaw-dropping textile best time of 2:08.00 in the distance breaststroke to guarantee himself his second individual swim at the 2012 London Olympics. The performance surpassed Naoya Tomita's textile best of 2:08.25 set last year in Hamamatsu, Japan, and is the 10th fastest swim ever. Kitajima is only half-a-second off his Japanese record of 2:07.51. Kitajima is now in line to go back-to-back-to-back in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke events in London after winning Olympic gold at both the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Remarkably, Ryo Tateishi also surpassed the textile best in the event with a second-place time of 2:08.17 to also make the Olympic squad. He nearly closed the distance on Kitajima, who had a 1:01.11 to 1:01.99 lead at the halfway mark. Tateishi's time bested his lifetime best of 2:08.25, and moved him into sole possession of seventh all time in the event.
Akihiro Yamaguchi posted a Japanese junior record with a third-place time of 2:09.70 for fourth in the world this year behind Andrew Willis (2:09.33), while Kazuki Otsuka took fourth in 2:10.85 tonight.
Yukihiro Takahashi (2:11.54), Tomita (2:11.76), Yuki Sato (2:12.51) and Keisuke Matsushima (2:14.08) rounded out the championship finale.
Video of the race:
Men's 200 back
Ryosuke Irie, who already leads the world this year with a sterling time of 1:54.02 from January, cruised into the finale with a 1:56.16 — the second-fastest time in the world so far this year. Ben Stasiulis stands second in the world to Irie this year with a 1:56.39 from last month. Kazuki Watanabe finished second today in 1:57.88, in line for a spot on the Olympic roster. He also moved up to 10th in the world with the swim.
Kuninori Tada took third in 1:58.17 for 12th in the world, while Hayate Matubara placed fourth in 1:58.32 for 14th in the world. Yuki Shirai (1:58.60), Takahiro Yamazaki (1:58.78), Keita Sunama (1:59.43) and Takashi Nakano (2:00.04) rounded out the finale.
Women's 200 breast
Satomi Suzuki (2:24.56) and Kanako Watanabe (2:24.88) both posted times under the Japanese cut, and will need to replicate those swims during the finale to make the Olympic roster. Suzuki moved to fourth in the world this year behind Rebecca Soni (2:22.73), Tera van Beilen (2:24.03) and Sun Ye (2:24.54), while Watanabe took seventh overall. Miho Takahashi (2:25.45) and Rie Kaneto (2:25.45) finished just outside the cut with third-place efforts to move to eighth in the world.
Keiko Fukudome (2:25.80), Saya Fujimoto (2:25.80), Fumiko Kawanabe (2:25.98) and Mio Motegi (2:26.28) completed the finale.
Men's 200 IM
After setting the Asian record in the men's 400 IM with a 4:10.26, Kosuke Hagino returned in the shorter distance medley with a 1:59.64 to put himself in line for another individual Olympic swim. That effort pushed Hagino to 16th in the world rankings, with time to drop during the finale. Ken Takakuwa (1:59.82) and Daiya Seto (1:59.93) are also within striking distance of the Japanese Olympic cut in the event in a fight for who will grab the second Olympic spot.
Yuya Horihata (2:00.26), Takuto Ueki (2:00.89), Yuma Kosaka (2:01.31), Yosuke Mori (2:01.40) and Yuta Uchida (2:01.63) also made their way into the finale.
Women's 800 free
Asami Chida led the way in prelims with an 8:36.53, while Maiko Fujino took second in 8:36.66. Both have some time to cut in the finale to make the Olympic squad. Yuri Yano (8:41.44), Ayano Koguchi (8:41.67), Misato Iwanaga (8:44.75), Emu Higuchi (8:46.43), Yukimi Moriyama (8:46.43) and Mizuki Nonaka (8:47.50) also made the finale.