By Hideki Mochizuki, Swimming World Japanese Correspondent
TOKYO, Japan, April 17. JUST one day after Reiko Nakamura became the 11th woman under a minute in the women's 100 backstroke, Hanae Itoh one-upped her compatriot by becoming the 12th with a national record at the Japanese Olympic Trials.
While Nakamura pushed the pace in the first 50 meters with a 29.26, compared to Itoh's 29.42, Itoh had much more left in the tank as she clocked a 59.83 to win with a national record. Nakamura placed second in 1:00.16, while Shiho Sakai picked up a national high school record with a third-place 1:00.45. Nakamura's previous national record of 59.96 stood for just a day.
"I just concentrated on not finishing in third place," Itoh said. "I still cannot believe this is a new Japanese record.
This year, 12 women have now cleared 1:00 in the event:
Natalie Coughlin, U.S., 59.21 (World Record)
Anastasia Zueva, Russia, 59.41
Kirsty Coventry, Zimbabwe, 59.42
Laure Manaudou, France, 59.50
Emily Seebohm, Australia, 59.59
Zhao Jin, China, 59.81
Hayley McGregory, U.S. 59.81
Hanae Itoh, Japan, 59.83
Sophie Edington, Australia, 59.84
Gemma Spofforth, Great Britain, 59.89
Reiko Nakamura, Japan, 59.96
Belinda Hocking, Australia, 59.97
In the women's 100 breast, Megumi Taneda came back with a strong latter half of the race to become the sole qualifier for Beijing with a 1:07.91.
In both the men's and women's 200 free, Japan has struggled to come closer to the global level, and unfortunately could not come up with a solution in this meet. Haruka Ueda was the women's winner in 1:59.09, outside the Olympic standard time of 1:58.26. Yoshihiro Okumura won the men's 200 free with a time of 1:47.90, also outside the national record of 1:47.83 and the Olympic standard as well. However, an add-up of the top four in both the men's and women's 200 free events is better than the Olympic standard for the 800 free relay, which should get Japan into the event.
In what is building up to be one of the fiercest races of the week, the men's 200 fly semis features three top swimmers vying for two spots. Takashi Yamamoto, Ryuichi Shibata and Takeshi Matsuda will battle tomorrow. Today, Matsuda took lane four with a 1:55.75. Yamamoto, who took silver in Athens behind Michael Phelps with the current national record of 1:54.56, has come out of retirement to enter finals as the third see in 1:57.62. Shibata, meanwhile, split the difference with a second-place 1:56.03.
Masayuki Kishida led the men's 50 free semifinal round with a 22.75, while Kaori Yamada paced the women's 50 free in 25.87. In the 200 IMs, Maiko Fujino topped semis in 2:15.18 for the women, while Hidemasa Sano checked in with a 2:00.49 for lane four in the men's finals.
Japanese Olympic Roster After Day Three
Kosuke Kitajima (100m breaststroke, 59.67)
Takeshi Matsuda: (400 freestyle, 3:47.36)
Hisato Matsumoto (800 relay, 1:48.97)
Junichi Miyashita (100m backstroke, 54.37)
Yasunori Mononobe (800 relay, 1:49.04)
Tomomi Morita (100m backstroke, 54.03)
Yoshihiro Okumura (800 relay, 1:47.90)
Yuta Suenaga (100m breaststroke, 1:00.72)
Sho Uchida (800 relay, 1:48.57)
Maiko Fujino (400 IM, 4:40.14)
Saori Haruguchi (400 IM, 4:38.94)
Hanae Itoh (100 back, 59.83)
Yuka Kato (100m butterfly, 58.55)
Maki Mita (800 relay, 1:59.95)
Reiko Nakamura (100 back, 1:00.16)
Yuko Nakanishi (100m butterfly, 58.52)
Emi Takanabe (800 relay, 2:01.39)
Megumi Taneda (100 breast, 1:07.91)
Haruka Ueda (800 relay, 1:59.09)
Misaki Yamaguchi (800 relay, 2:01.64)