KANAGAWA, Japan, May 26. THE Japan Open came to a close today with another spate of swift times going up on the board in the Kanagawa Province of Japan.
A day after Daiya Seto beat him in the 400-meter IM, Kosuke Hagino trounced Seto by nearly a second in the men's 200-meter IM. Hagino, who leads the world with a blazing Asian-record 1:55.74 from Japanese Nationals in Niigata last month, posted a comfortable time of 1:57.32 for the win tonight. Seto, meanwhile, grabbed second-place honors this evening in 1:58.27. That swim jumped Seto from ninth in the world to eighth, leapfrogging Philip Heintz's 1:58.34 from Germany. Seto's previous best this year was a 1:58.6 also from Niigata. Ken Takakuwa rounded out the top three in 1:59.08.
Kanako Watanabe took down the national junior record in the women's 200-meter IM with a blistering 2:11.96. That swim fell just outside the top 10 in the world this year, but was good enough for the record and the title. Watanabe, 17, previously had a lifetime best of 2:12.61 from Japanese Nationals in Niigata earlier this year and could be in line for a run at the World Championships in Barcelona later this summer. Miho Teramura (2:12.32) and Miyu Otsuka (2:12.43) placed second and third in the finale.
Aya Terakawa, who stands second in the world this year with a scorching 27.51 from Niigata in the women's 50-meter backstroke, cleared 28 seconds again this evening to win the sprint back in 27.86. Haruna Kagiya took second in 28.48, while Miyuki Takemura placed third in 28.81.
Rie Kaneto, also second in the world in the women's 200-meter breast with a 2:23.11 from Niigata, threw down a 2:23.83 to win the longer distance breaststroke event this evening. Mio Motegi raced to second in 2:24.55 to vault to fourth in the world rankings, while Runa Imai picked up third-place honors in 2:25.41. That swim fell just off her sixth-ranked season best of 2:25.13 from Niigata.
Similar to the men's 400-meter IM event, where Japan has four of the top swimmers in the world, Japan is equally as impressive in the women's 200-meter breaststroke. Currently, Japan now owns four of the top 10 spots in the event with Kaneto (2:23.11), Motegi (2:24.55), Satomi Suzuki (2:24.80) and Umai (2:25.13) ranking second, fourth, fifth and sixth. That's scary depth in a single event.
Kazuki Kohinata nipped Ryo Tateisi in the men's 200-meter breaststroke event, 2:10.43 to 2:10.45. That pushed Kohinata from eighth in the world with a 2:11.27 in Niigata to a fifth-ranked tie with Michael Jamieson. Meanwhile, Tateisi now stands seventh in the world, ahead of Daniel Gyurta's 2:10.50. That gives Japan three of the top 10 in the event now with breaststroke prodigy Akihiro Yamaguchi ranking third in the world with a 2:09.31 from Niigata. Kosuke Kitajima raced to third-place honors this evening with a 2:11.55 that puts him just outside the top 10.
Ryosuke Irie topped the men's 50-meter backstroke with a time of 25.17, while Junya Hasegawa (25.67) and Yamato Ujibayashi (25.82) picked up second and third-place honors in the sprint event. By the slimmest of margins, Miki Uchida clipped Misaki Agou, 25.49 to 25.50, for the women's 50-meter freestyle title. Yayoi Matsumoto finished third in 25.69. Then, in an equally fun finish, Kenta Ito and Yuki Kawachi deadheated in the men's 50-meter free with matching 22.36s. Makoto Ito finished third in 22.57.
Natsumi Hoshi raced to victory in the women's 100-meter fly with a time of 58.56, while Nao Kobayashi took second place with a time of 58.96. Yuka Kato finished third in 59.06. Masayuki Umemoto clocked a lifetime best in the men's 100-meter fly with a 52.44 for the win, while Kohei Kawamoto touched second in 52.59. Takaya Yasue placed third in 53.02.