TOKYO, Japan, April 5. THE Japan Swim is getting increasingly faster with swimmers jumping to the top of the world rankings on a regular basis during the midway mark of what is serving as the Japanese Olympic Trials.
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.
Women's 100 back
Aya Terakawa clipped her national record in the event with a 59.10 for the win. That swim bypassed her time of 59.13 set at the Japanese Sports Festival in 2010, and qualified her for the Olympics. It also jumped her to the top of the world, ahead of Emily Seebohm's previous pacesetter of 59.28 from Australian Trials last month.
Shiho Sakai pipped Noriko Inada for second, 1:00.50 to 1:00.57, with both missing the Japanese Olympic cut. Both times, however, are faster than the FINA A cut of 1:00.82, leaving Japan the out to select a second swimmer if they choose to do so at a later date. Japan, however, has been pretty up front about sticking to its faster cuts for selection. Japan may also be able to use Sakai's semifinal time of 1:00.45 to determine her qualification, as it was faster than the internal standard.
Inada, 34, had been looking for a Cinderella story as a Masters swimmer based at Phoenix Swim Club, but swam slower than her third-seeded 1:00.55 from semis.
Miyuki Takemura (1:01.56), Eri Tabei (1:01.63), Mai Harada (1:01.82), Maho Tsujimoto (1:02.50) and Emi Moronuki (1:02.68) completed the top eight in the finale.
Women's 200 fly
Natsumi Hoshi rattled the textile best in the distance fly with a scorching time of 2:04.69. That swim crushed her previous Japanese record of 2:05.91 set at the 2011 World Championships, and closed the distance with Liu Zige's textile best of 2:04.40 set last year in Wuhan, China. Incidentally, she blew past Ellen Gandy's world-leading 2:05.95 from February, en route to making the Olympic squad as a gold medal contender.
Hoshi had open water throughout the swim, as Masami Uchikoshi finished a distant second in 2:09.24, missing both the Japanese cut and the FINA A cut to give Japan just one swimmer in the event in London. Yuka Kato (2:09.57), Hiroko Sugino (2:10.51), Jurina Shiga (2:11.70), Kei Hoshiba (2:11.83), Ayana Miwa (2:11.91) and Nao Kobayashi (2:12.65) rounded out the championship heat.
Women's 200 IM
The Japanese cut claimed yet another victim as second-place finisher Miho Teramura posted a 2:12.95 to better the FINA A cut (2:13.36), but fall short of Japan's faster internal standard. Izumi Kato made the Olympic squad with a 2:11.79 to move into the top 10 in the world this year.
Emu Higuchi (2:13.81), Asami Kitagawa (2:13.82), Miyu Ohtsuka (2:13.90), Tomoyo Fukuda (2:14.13), Miho Takahashi (2:15.55) and Yuka Kawano (2:15.95) also vied for Olympic spots in the finale.
Men's 100 free
Takuro Fujii cruised to the top spot in semis with a 49.12, but still has nearly a second to cut to make the Olympic squad due to Japan's extra-difficult qualifying mark. His time pushed him into the top 20. Shinri Shioura (49.72), Kazuki Nagura (49.90), Ranmaru Harada (49.91) and Katsumi Nakamura (49.95) cleared 50 seconds as well to qualify second through fifth. Kenji Kobase (50.08), Yuki Kawachi (50.21) and Takayuki Minari (50.22) also made the finale.
Women's 100 free
Yayoi Matsumoto just missed the Japanese record of 54.33 with a strong time of 54.37 in the semifinal. In one of the events where the Japanese qualifying mark is faster than the national record, Matsumoto still has some work to do. Matsumoto moved up to 18th in the world rankings with the swim. Haruka Ueda (54.55), Hanae Ito (55.18), Natsuki Hasegawa (55.58), Mao Kawakami (55.58), Miki Uchida (55.62), Tomoko Hagiwara (55.99) and Misaki Yamaguchi (56.03) earned the other transfer spots into the finale.
Men's 200 fly
After cruising into semis a day after making the Olympic squad in the men's 200 free, Takeshi Matsuda threw down a 1:54.19 in the distance fly semis for the top seed. That time is the fastest in the world this year, and is well under the Japanese Olympic cut. The previous top time in the world had been a 1:54.71 by Nick D'Arcy from Australian Trials last month. In the finals, he could challenge for his national record of 1:52.97 from the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Hidemasa Sano is within striking distance of the Japanese cut with a second-seeded 1:55.90, while Ryusuke Sakata could also vie for a spot on the team with a third-seeded 1:56.00. Kazuya Kaneda (1:56.48), Kenta Hirai (1:56.78), Yuki Kobori (1:57.19), Yuta Kimura (1:57.23) and Takuya Nozawa (1:57.29) picked up spots in the championship heat as well.
Men's 200 breast
Ryo Tateishi rolled to the top seed with a 2:09.02, while Kosuke Kitajima kept on the path to defending his back-to-back Olympic gold medals in the event with a second-seeded 2:09.25. The two times are at the top of the world rankings this year. Akihiro Yamaguchi took third in semis with a 2:10.41 to move into the top 10, while Kazuki Ohtsuka finished fourth in 2:10.77 for the top 10 as well. Yukihiro Takahashi (2:11.67), Yuki Sato (2:11.80), Naoya Tomita (2:11.92) and Keisuke Matsushima (2:12.56) completed the top eight finishers moving to the championships heat.