MISSION Viejo, Calif., June 16. NEXT month, one of the highlight events of the World Championships will be the duel in the 100-meter breaststroke between Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima and the United States’ Brendan Hansen. Kitajima is the reigning Olympic and world champ while Hansen is the global-record holder.
How Kitajima will perform, however, is a question. Perhaps this weekend will provide some sort of clue. Enjoying rock-star status in his homeland, Kitajima has not had a splendid year. Not only did he fail to make the World Championships in the 200 breast, where he’s the defending world titlist, he hasn’t been particularly fast in the two-lap distance.
Kitajima managed just a 1:00.89 clocking at the Japanese Nationals and followed that swim a few weeks later with a time in the same vicinity. It has now been nearly two years since Kitajima cracked the one-minute barrier. Which begs the question: Can he match his peak performances from 2003?
With the World Champs around the corner, Kitajima will compete Saturday and Sunday in the breaststroke events at the TYR Meet Of Champions, hosted by the Mission Viejo Nadadores. The preparation meet should provide a good idea as to where Kitajima stands in his training.