NIIGATA, Japan, April 12. A day after blasting the Japanese record in the 400-meter IM at the Japan Open, Kosuke Hagino chimed in with a pair of big upset victories on night two. However, it may just be a matter of time before those upsets aren't so surprising in his off events as the IMer continues to expand his repertoire.
Hagino opened up with a blistering 1:46.28 in the men's 200-meter freestyle, downing favored Takeshi Matsuda. Matsuda took second in 1:47.12, while Yuuki Kobori finished third overall in 1:47.53. Hagino's time jumped him into the mix at the top of the men's 200-meter freestyle heap worldwide. While no one has come close to touching Sun Yang's impressive 1:44.99 from Chinese Nationals this year, only a few swimmers have cracked 1:47 with Yannick Agnel (1:46.11), Wang Shun (1:46.60) and Thomas Fraser-Holmes (1:46.62) among those that have.
Hagino then clipped backstroke specialist Ryosuke Irie in the men's 100-meter back, 53.10 to 53.33. Yuuki Shirai wound up third overall in 54.13. Only Jeremy Stravius has been faster than Hagino this year in the shorter backstroke event, having clocked a 53.09 in France two days ago.
Irie also bettered his season best of 53.43 from the NSW Open Championships in Sydney last month, which had stood as the world-leader until this week. However, the pressure is definitely off Irie this week as he was preselected for the Japanese Worlds roster after winning a medal in the 100 back at the 2012 London Games.
Aya Terakawa, the Olympic bronze medalist in the women's 100-meter backstroke, missed the Japanese record by the slimmest of margins with a world-leading scorcher of 58.84. That bettered her previous top time of 59.16 from the NSW Open Championships last month, and makes her the one to beat early on in the season heading into Barcelona. Shiho Sakai finished well back in second with a 1:00.99, while Sayaka Akase rounded out the podium with a third-place 1:01.05.
In other action, Ayatsugu Hirai clinched the men's 1500-meter freestyle title in 15:00.66, while Yousuke Miyamoto took second in 15:05.27. Kouhei Yamamoto wrapped up third-place honors with a 15:05.95 in what proved to be a close fight for second.
Satomi Suzuki raced to the win in the women's 50-meter breaststroke with a top time of 31.57, while Rie Kaneto (32.01) and Miku Kanasashi (32.03) placed second and third in the sprint breaststroke event. Hiromasa Sakimoto just missed the national record in the men's 50-meter breaststroke (27.30) with a winning time of 27.58. Yuuki Okajima finished second in 27.82, while Kouichirou Okazaki touched third in 27.85.
Miyu Otsuka dominated the women's 400-meter IM event with a time of 4:37.53, about a second-and-a-half off the national record in the distance medley. Miho Takahashi raced to second in a 4:40.04, while Sakiko Shimizu earned third in 4:40.35. Chihiro Igarashi cleared 2:00 to win the women's 200-meter free in 1:59.50. Haruka Ueda took second in 2:00.43, while Aya Takano touched third in 2:00.58.