NIIGATA, Japan, April 11. JAPAN'S most famous swimming Kosukes — Hagino and Kitajima — started the Japanese Open with swift swimming that included a national record by Hagino and a potential sixth world championship appearance by Kitajima.
Hagino had little pressure in the 400 IM final, with Japan giving automatic world championship berths to its individual event medalists from the 2012 Olympics. The 400 IM bronze medalist posted a national and Asian record time of 4:07.61, beating his own mark of 4:08.94 that he swam in the Olympic final. Had he swum that time in London, he would have beaten Thiago Pereira to the silver medal, but still would have been more than two seconds behind champion Ryan Lochte. The time does leapfrog Hagino over Pereira on the all-time rankings list, moving Hagino from sixth to fifth.
Daiya Seto, a standout at last fall's World Cup circuit, was second in 4:12.70, well under the FINA automatic qualifying standard of 4:18.99. Takeharu Fujimori was third with a 4:15.11.
Kitajima, the four-time Olympic champion in the breaststroke events, swam a 1:00.78 to win the 100 breaststroke over current 200 breast world record holder Akihiro Yamaguchi's 1:00.81. Both times cleared the FINA A qualifying standard of 1:00.88, though Japan often requires faster swims to guarantee a spot on the team. Third place went to Kouichirou Okazaki with a 1:00.86, also under the FINA qualifying time. Okazaki made the most of his appearance in the final, having to win a swimoff against Yoshiki Yamanaka after tying with matching times of 1:01.44 in the heats. Okazaki swam a 1:01.00 in the swimoff to Yamanaka's 1:01.37. The race in the championship final was close, with the top five separated by 16-hundredths of a second.
Like Hagino, Satomi Suzuki did not need to worry about placement on the world championship team, thanks to her two medals in the breaststrokes from the Olympics. Suzuki's win today in 1:07.43 was essentially for show, and she held off a fast-charging Kanako Watanabe, who was second with a 1:07.47, under FINA automatic qualifying time of 1:08.63. Third in the race was Rie Kaneto with a 1:07.83.
Chihiro Igarashi won the first championship final of the day, the women's 400 freestyle, with a 4:10.67, which was slower than the FINA automatic time. Asami Chida placed second with a 4:12.46, and Sudumi Hasegawa finished third with a 4:13.28.
Yuka Kato, who was a part of Japan's bronze medal 400 medley relay in London, won the women's 50 butterfly with a 26.47. Misaki Agou was second in 26.89, while Masako Kuroki placed third with a 27.20.
Ryo Takayasu won the men's 50 fly with a 24.00 ahead of Yusuke Yasue's 24.13. Masayuki Kishida, who trains with the postgraduate team at the University of Arizona, was third with a 24.16.
Shinri Shioura made a run at Takuro Fujii's national record of 48.49 in the men's 100 free, winning with a 48.78 and getting under the automatic qualifying time of 48.93. Kenta Ito got to the wall second with a 49.23, and Fujii was third with a 49.34.