TOKYO, Japan, April 4. THE Japan Swim, which is serving as the Japanese Olympic Trials this year, moved right along as the meet continued to produce lightning fast times across the board.
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 200 free
Takeshi Matsuda secured an individual Olympic berth with a 1:45.96 for the win. His swim jumped him to third in the world, behind only Yannick Agnel (1:44.42) and Michael Phelps (1:45.69), en route to making his third consecutive Olympic Games. He placed eighth in the 400 free in 2004, and won bronze in the 200 fly at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Yuki Kobori (1:47.71), Syo Sotodate (1:48.15) and Chiaki Ishibashi (1:48.16) lined up Olympic qualifying spots, as their add-up time along with Matsuda's performance, cleared the Japanese qualifying mark to submit a men's 800 freestyle relay for Olympic consideration. Japan had set the add-up standard at 7:13.57. Individually, Kobori moved to 19th in the world rankings.
Syogo Hihara (1:48.33), Yuya Horihata (1:48.73), Syo Uchida (1:48.74) and Hiroaki Yamamoto (1:49.40) rounded out the championship heat.
Women's 200 free
Haruka Ueda just missed the Japanese Olympic qualifying standard, set faster than the Japanese record of 1:57.37, with a 1:57.41 to win the event. However, she did clear the FINA A cut of 1:58.33 and may receive special consideration later in the selection process as things continue to shake out heading into this summer. Ueda's time moved her to 11th in the world this year.
Hanae Ito (1:58.13), Yayoi Matsumoto (1:59.44) and Aya Takano (1:59.46), along with Ueda's swim, did enough for Japan to submit a women's 800 freestyle relay. Japan had set the internal add-up standard at 7:56.26, and the top four posted a 7:54.44 add-up time.
Chihiro Igarashi (1:59.73), Mari Sumiyoshi (2:00.67), Yasuko Miyamoto (2:00.92) and Misaki Yamaguchi (2:01.40) completed the rest of the swims in the championship finale.
Women's 100 breast
Satomi Suzuki (1:06.80) and Mina Matsushima (1:07.54) both secured individual Olympic swims as the top two swimmers under the Japanese Olympic qualifying standard of 1:07.79. Suzuki closed within half-a-second of the Japanese record, and moved into sole possession of second in the world rankings this year behind only Jessica Hardy (1:06.12). Leiston Pickett and Rebecca Soni are the only other swimmers under 1:07 with matching 1:06.88s this year.
Matsushima, meanwhile, edged Fumiko Kawanabe for the second spot on the squad by a fingernail as Kawanabe missed making the squad by .03 seconds with a third-place time of 1:07.56. Matsushima improved to ninth in the world with her swim, while Kawanabe posted a heart-breaking 10th-fastest time in the world this year.
Miku Kanashashi placed fourth in 1:07.87, moving to 13th in the world, while Maya Hamano took fifth in 1:08.04 for 15th in the world. Kanako Watanabe (1:08.13), Keiko Fukudome (1:08.36) and Nanaka Tamura (1:08.71) also competed in the finale.
Men's 100 back
Ryosuke Irie became just the second man under 53 seconds this year with a second-ranked time of 52.91 to earn him an individual swim in the Olympics. Only Camille Lacourt has been faster this year with a 52.75 from last month during French Trials. London will be Irie's second Olympic appearance after placing fifth in the 200 back at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Meanwhile, Junya Koga finished second in 54.14, under the FINA A cut of 54.40 but slower than Japan's tougher internal qualifying standard of 54.09 to automatically make the squad out of Trials. Japan may still reconsider its team roster heading into this summer, as many countries that have made tougher initial cuts will be doing. Koga's time pushed him to 17th in the world.
Yuki Shirai (54.22) also bettered the FINA A cut, but wound up third overall, while Takahashi Iyobe finished fourth in 54.53. Yamato Ujibayashi (54.88), Kazuki Watanabe (55.04), Yusuke Kudo (55.33) and Masafumi Yamaguchi (55.42) placed fifth through eighth in the finale.
Women's 100 back
Aya Terakawa became just the seventh woman this year to clear 1:00 with a 59.75 to lead the way into the finale. That swim moved her to fifth in the world this year, behind Danish prodigy Mie Nielsen (59.69) and ahead of Canada's Julia Wilkinson (59.85).
Shiho Sakai qualified second in 1:00.45, in line with the Japanese qualifying mark to make the Olympic squad, while Noriko Inada finished third in 1:00.55 with a shot to make the Olympics. Inada trains in the U.S. with the Phoenix Swim Club, and at 34 years of age, is looking to surprise the youngsters in Japan. Inada's FINA Masters world record for the 30-34 division stands at 1:01.78 from last August. Sakai moved to 14th in the world, while Inada took 16th in the rankings.
Miyuki Takemura (1:01.41), Mai Harada (1:01.85), Maho Tsujimoto (1:01.85), Eri Tabei (1:01.92) and Emi Moronuki (1:02.07) also made the finale.
Women's 200 fly
Japanese record holder Natsumi Hoshi easily cruised to the top seed in the distance fly finale with a 2:07.42, also clipping the Japanese qualifying standard. She will need to replicate the swim in finals to earn a spot on the Olympic team. Her effort today moved her to sixth in the world, behind Mireia Belmonte (2:06.95) and ahead of Katinka Hosszu (2:07.58).
Japan may not field a second swimmer in the event, as Yuka Kato (2:10.49), Masami Uchikoshi (2:10.89) and Hiroko Sugino (2:10.89) qualified well back of the Japanese cut. Nao Kobayashi (2:11.07), Ayana Miwa (2:11.29), Jurina Shiga (2:11.48) and Kei Hoshiba (2:11.68) earned the rest of the transfer spots into the finale.
Women's 200 IM
A trio of swimmers posted 2:13s in hopes of clearing the Japanese qualifying mark during finals. Izumi Kato led the way with a 2:13.21, while Emu Higuchi (2:13.40) and Miho Takahashi (2:13.86) also posted 2:13s during semis. Tomoyo Fukuda (2:14.07), Asami Kitagawa (2:14.18), Miyu Ohstuka (2:14.21), Miho Teramura (2:14.85) and Yuka Kawano (2:15.10) also will swim in the finale.