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Japanese Set 6 National Marks -- June 29, 1999

By Josh Jeffrey

Six new national marks were set at the Japanese Nationals held in Tokyo, June 10-13. The Japanese women especially made huge breakthroughs and have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in Sydney at the Pan Pacific Championships in August.

Men's highlights included Tomohiro Yamanoi's national record in the 50m free (22.68), Keitaro Konnai's 55.53 in the 100 back, and Akira Hayashi's 1:02.19 in the 100 breast. In addition, team leader Takashi Yamamoto swam very swift times of 53.12 and 1:57.09 in the butterfly events, winning both races handily.

On the women's side, veteran Suzu Chiba, 24, became the first Japanese woman under 55 seconds in the 100 free, posting a 54.99, as well as winning the 200 free with a new national record, 1:58.78. Watch out Inge and Jenny! Additionally in the 100, Ayari Aoyama and Sumika Minamoto were both under 56 seconds (55.53 and 55.82, respectively),

Aoyama won the 100 fly in 59.77, with second and third at 1:00.01 and 1:00.03. The 200 fly was led by 16-year-old Maki Mita at 2:09.68.

Backstroke events in Japan were taken to new levels as Mai Nakamura finally had a perfect swim, posting a scorching 1:01.07 in the 100 for a new national record, while Mike Nakao won the 200 in 2:10.34, a time that would have won handily in Perth at last year's World Championships, and another national record. The top three swimmers were 2:12.09 or better.

Finally, Masami Tanaka proved her wins at the Short Course World Champs in Hong Kong were no fluke, notching a national record 1:08.86 in the 100 breaststroke, and winning the 200 in 2:27.69. The next two swimmers swam 2:28.4 or better.

Josh Jeffrey is a frequent contributor to Swimming World.