MISSION VIEJO, Calif., USA, June 20. IS he sandbagging, holding back until it counts? Or, has Kosuke Kitajima lost some of the pop that made him one of the greatest breaststrokers in history? For now, it looks like the Japanese star has lost some of his magic. That’s what the results from the TYR Meet of Champions indicate.
A day after losing the 200 breaststroke to countryman Genki Imamura, Kitajima lost a Sunday matchup in the 100 distance at the Meet of Champions, hosted by the Mission Viejo Nadadores. Imamura clocked a meet-record time of 1:01.66, which edged Kitajima (1:01.67) by the slimmest of margins. Imamura will contest the 100 and 200 breast events at next month’s World Championships in Montreal. Kitajima will swim the 50 and 100 events.
The defending world champ in the 100 and 200 breasts, Kitajima also won both events at last summer’s Olympic Games in Athens. However, he has not been swimming particularly well in recent months and has not produced an eye-popping time since Athens. That scenario leads to this question: Is Kitajima on the downside of his career? We should receive an answer in Montreal.
Kaitlin Sandeno, already the winner of three events, added a fourth victory during Sunday’s action, as she claimed top honors in the 200 individual medley. Sandeno was timed in 2:16.46, which was enough to hold off Maiko Fujino (2:16.80) and Yana Klochkova (2:18.96). Sandeno, who earlier won the 400 I.M., 100 freestyle and 200 free, was joined as an American winner by Jessica Hardy, who zipped to a mark of 1:09.45 to prevail in the 100 breaststroke.
The Japanese women continued their strong showings as Ai Shibata won the 1,500 freestyle (16:21.36) and Reiko Nakamura earned first place in the 100 backstroke (1:01.81). Aya Terakawa was second in the 100 back in 1:01.85. As for the 100 butterfly, first place went to Yuko Nakanishi (1:00.23). On the men’s side, South Africa’s Lyndon Ferns cruised to a meet record in the 100 butterfly, thanks to a time of 53.75. Tomomi Morita was the victor in the 100 backstroke in 55.57