NIIGATA, Japan, April 13. KOSUKE Kagino continues to make a name for himself at the Japan Open, winning two more events on Saturday and going 2-for-2 in setting individual medley national/Asian records.
The 18-year-old started Saturday's session with a 3:45.42 in the 400 free, improving on his best of the year, which was a 3:46.89 from just last month in Australia. Only China's Sun Yang has been faster in 2013 so far, with a 3:42.93 to his credit. Hagino is inching closer to Takeshi Matsuda's Japanese record of 3:44.99, which Matsuda set in 2009. Finishing well back in second in today's race was Kohei Yamamoto with a 3:50.37, and Fumiya Hidaka was third with a 3:51.22.
Hagino notched a fifth event on his world championship schedule when he posted a 1:55.74 in the 200 IM to conclude today's finals session. The time breaks Ken Takakuwa's Japanese and Asian record of 1:57.24 from the 2009 nationals, and puts Hagino well ahead of the rest of the world so far in 2013, with China's Wang Shun's 1:57.50 formerly the world's best time. Today's swim was a major improvement on Hagino's best of the season, which had been a 1:57.68 from March's trip to Australia. Hagino now has a place in the all-time top 10 performers in the 200 IM, sitting sixth.
With the swim, Hagino creeps closer to the echelon of the event that had previously only belonged to Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps. He is just nine tenths of a second outside of being the only person not named Lochte or Phelps in the top 10 performances in the event in history. Phelps' 1:54.84 from the 2012 Olympic Trials stands as the 10th-fastest performance in history.
Daiya Seto, also an improving 18-year-old, finished second in today's race with a 1:58.66, moving into third in the 2013 world rankings. Takakuwa missed out on world championship selection with a third-place 1:58.82.
Not to be outdone by Hagino, Aya Terakawa set a national record of her own, winning the 50 backstroke with a 27.51, clearing her own Japanese record by two tenths. Terakawa now will be considered a medal favorite in both sprint backstrokes, and will look to improve on her silver medal in the 50 back from the 2011 world championships. Emi Moronuki kept 34-year-old Noriko Inada from making the world championship team by out-touching the three-time Olympian 28.71 to 28.78.
With Japan preselecting its Olympic medalists from 2012 for the world championships roster, Takeshi Matsuda did not need to finish in the top two in the men's 200 fly today, and that's exactly what he did, placing third behind Yuki Kobori's 1:55.51 and Seto's 1:55.59. With Matsuda already going to Barcelona in the 200 fly, Seto finds himself shut out of the roster for a second event today.
Natsumi Hoshi, also preselected for worlds based on her bronze-medal performance from the Olympics in the 200 fly, won that event with a 2:06.12. In London, she took bronze with a 2:05.48 and holds the national record with a 2:04.69. Today's swim puts her second in the world behind reigning Olympic champion Jiao Liuyang's 2:05.87 and ahead of Olympic silver medalist Mireia Belmonte Garcia's 2:06.70. Kona Fujita was second with a 2:09.73, while Kei Hoshiba took third with a 2:10.44.
Junya Koga, the 2009 world champion in the 100 backstroke who missed out on Olympic team selection in 2012, won the 50 back today with a 25.12 over Ryosuke Irie, who was second with a 25.24. Junya Hasegawa placed third with a 25.52.
Asami Chida won the women's 800 free with an 8:38.31, while Maiko Fujino placed second with an 8:43.30 and Ayano Koguchi was third with an 8:44.72.
Haruka Ueda used a strong final 50 meters to overtake Miki Uchida in the women's 100 free, winning with a 55.29 to Uchida's 55.43. Ueda holds the national record with a 54.00 from 2012. Misaki Yamaguchi placed third with a 55.51.
Kanako Watanabe won the women's 200 IM with a 2:12.61, ahead of Miho Teramura's 2:12.89 and Miyu Ohtsuka's 2:13.16.