KANAGAWA, Japan, May 24. THE first day of the Japan open long course competition saw members of the country's world championship swim team impress in their first races since being added to the world team roster.
With a world-leading 58.84 to her credit from the world championship trials in April, Aya Terakawa cruised to the win in the women's 100 back today with a 59.50. Sayaka Akase placed second with a 1:00.68, a personal best by two tenths of a second. Emi Moronuki was third with another lifetime best of 1:01.45.
Ryosuke Irie is one of the most consistent performers in the world, posting close to the same times in the backstroke events at every meet throughout the season (though typically going faster at the championship meet). He showed that consistency today with a 100 back winning time of 53.36, just off the 53.33 he swam to place second behind Kosuke Hagino's 53.10 at the world championship trials. Hagino and Irie sit second and third in the world with their times. Yuki Shirai, the Japanese record holder in the short course meters 200 backstroke, was second with a 54.08, while Hagino settled for third with a 54.15.
Natsumi Hoshi pushed the pace hard in the women's 200 butterfly, taking the race out in 1:00.43 before coming home to touch in a fast 2:06.43. The time just missed her best time of 2013, a 2:06.12 that she swam in April at the world championship trials. Well back in second and third were Kona Fujita (2:09.59) and Miyu Ootsuka (2:09.74).
Another world championship team member to approach their times from the world championship trials was Olympic bronze medalist Satomi Suzuki, who posted a 1:07.94 today in the women's 100 breast, just off the 1:07.43 she swam last month. Rie Kaneto placed second with a 1:08.20, while Kanako Watanabe finished third with a 1:08.27.
Kosuke Kitajima beat a talented field in the men's 100 breast, a heat that saw first through eighth separated by just nine tenths. Kitajima posted a 1:00.44, faster than the 1:00.69 he swam last month. Yasuhiro Koseki was second with a 1:00.87, while Ryo Tateishi placed third with a 1:00.98.
Kenta Hirai was one of the few non-world championship team swimmers to win an event on the opening day, taking the men's 200 fly in a 1:55.82. It's faster than the 1:56.30 he swam at the world trials to place third, but had he swum that time in April, it still would not have been fast enough to make the world championship team. Yuki Kobori still holds the fastest time by a Japanese man this year, with a 1:55.51 to his credit. Olympic bronze medalist Takeshi Matsuda, preselected to the world team based on his performance in London, sailed into second today with a 1:57.07, a bit slower than the 1:56.26 he swam at the world trials to sit sixth in the world. Kou Fukaya was third with a 1:57.58.
Chihiro Igarashi chased down Haruka Ueda in the final 50 meters of the women's 200 freestyle, winning with a 1:59.51 to Ueda's 1:59.93. Aya Takano was third with a 2:00.50.
With Hagino sitting out the men's 200 free, one of the six individual events he's slated to swim at the world championships, world championship relay member Sho Sotodate won the race with a 1:48.48, ahead of Fumiya Hidaka, who touched in 1:48.78. Naito Ehara was third with a 1:49.00.