Kosuke Hagino rocketed to first in the world rankings for the 200 free with a scorching 1:45.50 during day three finals of the 2016 Japanese Nationals.
The women’s 100-meter backstroke continued to be a semi-lackluster event with none of the athletes bypassing the 1-minute mark. Miyuki Takemuri held her spot as the number one seed with a time 1:00.50, while Natsumi Sakai maintained second with a 1:00.56.
Anna Konishi moved up to third in the 100-meter back with a time of 1:00.84, bettering upon her prelims time of 1:01.33, leaving the race wide open for anyone in tomorrow’s finals.
Suzuka Hasegawa changed the field of the 200-meter fly with a dynamite 2:06.85 in semi-finals. Hasagawa’s time rockets her to fourth in the world rankings for 2016. Natsumi Hoshi, the reigning world champion in the 200 fly, slashed almost four seconds off her prelims time to finish with a 2:07.55, a time which falls within the top ten in the world rankings. Hoshi already holds the third fastest time at a 2:06.56 from the Konami Open earlier in February.
While Hasegawa and Hoshi are both under the Japanese Olympic standard of 2:07.82 it is only semi-finals, so they will have to replicate or better their swims in finals to punch their tickets to Rio.
The women of the 200-meter IM continued to keep a tight field with the top three seeds posting final times within one second of each other in semi-finals. Kanako Watanabe, the silver medalist in this event from Kazan, moved up to the top position with a time of 2:11.58. Finishing close behind was Sakiko Shimizu who turned in a time of 2:11.69 for second. Minho Teramura, the leader after prelims, fell to third with a time of 2:12.02, still under the time she led prelims with (2:12.51).
Kosuke Hagino posted his second win of the meet in the men’s 200-meter free, stopping the clock at a sizzling 1:45.50. Hagino’s time not only rockets him to the top of the 2016 world rankings, but also earned him a ticket to Rio as he finished more than one second under the Japanese Olympic standard of 1:46.89. Hagino’s swim now makes him the only other swimmer besides China’s Sun Yang to have clocked a sub-1:46 in the 2016 season.
Takeshi Matsuda improved upon his semi-finals time in the 200 free to stop the clock at a 1:46.88, but was unable to bypass the Olympic standard, needing to drop another .78 seconds. Naito Ehara turned in a time of 1:46.89 for third overall.
Rikako Ikee, the young teen phenom, surged ahead of the competition to win the women’s 200-meter free in a new Japanese junior national record of 1:57.39. Despite finishing a shy .02 seconds short of the Japanese National record (1:57.37), Ikee missed the Japanese Olympic standard by more than half a second (1:56.82) as the 200 free is the only event in which the Olympic standard is faster than the National record.
Kanako Watanabe led the women’s 100-meter breaststroke field with a final time of 1:06.57, finishing less than a second off her Japanese National record of 1:05.88 from 2014. Watanabe’s swim qualifies her for the Olympic team as she finished under the Olympic standard of 1:06.72. This is not the first 1:06 for Watanabe, however, as she currently is ranked seventh in the world with a 1:06.49 from the Japanese Intercollegiate Championships last fall.
Also under the Olympic standard is Satomi Suzuki who finished with a 1:06.72, good for second overall. Rie Kaneto, the 200-meter breaststroke National Record holder, finished with a time of 1:06.79 for the bronze.
Ryosuke Irie clinched a ticket to Rio in the men’s 100-meter back with a final time of 53.26, finishing just .01 seconds faster than his 53.27 from last October’s Tokyo stop of the World Cup Series. While Irie will need to bump up the speed if he wants to challenge Australia’s Mitch Larkin or France’s Camille LaCourt, his time was comfortably under the Japanese Olympic standard of 53.49.
Junya Hasegawa grabbed second overall with a time of 53.49, tying the Japanese Olympic standard. Only the Japanese Swimming Federation can tell us if tying the Olympic standard is good enough to earn a spot on the Olympic team. Junya Koga finished third overall with a time of 53.57, just shy of the Olympic standard.