Duel in the Pool: Flash! Ryosuke Irie Smashes World Record in 200 Back

By Priyant Pratap

CANBERRA, Australia, May 10. ANYONE that thought the Japanese wouldn't be able to hold their own against the Australians in the Duel in the Pool this year was sorely mistaken. Australia pulled out a close 167-162 victory in the elite stages, but witnessed a series of stunning upsets throughout the meet that led to an overall loss of 352-305 when adding in the youth events.

The 200 backstroke events on the final day featured great swims by each victor.

Both 200 back events saw great swims by each victor. The men's swim saw Ryan Lochte's Beijing world record of 1:53.94 axed when Ryosuke Irie, wearing an Arena X-Glide, broke the 1:53 barrier to clock 1:52.86.

Here are the comparative splits for the world record:
Irie: 26.84, 55.46 (28.62), 1:24.42 (28.96), 1:52.86 (28.44)
Lochte: 27.24, 55.77 (28.53), 1:25.06 (29.29), 1:53.94 (28.88)

"I am very happy to break the world record in Australia, and I am confident I can break the record again at the world championships," Irie told Swimming Australia.

Day 1 saw Irie come within .02 of erasing Aaron Peirsol's 100 back global standard. The world-record performance today was the first time in 10 years that a world record had been swum in this pool. Michael Klim broke the 100 fly world record in 51.81 a decade ago.

As for the women's 200 back, despite being ill for 8 weeks, Meagen Nay set a Commonwealth record of 2:07.41 to win ahead of teammate Belinda Hocking (2:09.01).

The women's 200 IM featured an upset when Asami Kitagawa (2:12.79) and Tomoyo Fukuda (2:13.58) beat world-record holder Stephanie Rice (2:14.35), while Rice's co-Rome qualifier in this event, Emily Seebohm, finished last in 2:18.34.

In the men's 200 IM, Ken Takakuwa and Takuro Fujii cleared the two-minute barrier clocking 1:59.18 and 1:59.87, respectively, while Australian champion Leith Brodie (2:05.20) finished fifth with a time that was slower than the top 5 times posted in the youth event swum minutes before.
In the women's 200 breast, Rie Kaneto posted an impressive 2:22.83, to lead the Japanese trio that included Nanaka Tamura and Hitomi Nose to victory whilst Australia's Sally Foster (2:26.81) and Sarah Katsoulis (2:29.06) finished in the bottom two.

Similarly, Beijing silver medalist Brenton Rickard finished in last place in the men's 200 breast with a 2:12.37, with Ryo Tateishi (who in day 1 clocked 59.48 in the 100 breast) won with 2:08.25, making him the second-fastest man in history.

In what was a bizarre 50 free for men, Andrew Lauterstein pulled off a victory to post 22.32 beating Makato Ito by .01 having previously defeated Takuro Fujii by the same margin in the 100 fly. Former world-record holder Eamon Sullivan finished third.

In her first swim of the second day, Libby Trickett was unable to match her form from the previous day, swimming 24.27 to win the women's 50 free whilst Olympic bronze medalist Cate Campbell finished second in 24.68 making her the fourth-fastest woman this year.

Neither Nay nor Rice, Australia's 200 free World qualifiers for women, contested the event at the Duel. It was won by Felicity Galvez (1:58.59) while in the men's event, Patrick Murphy (1:48.80), Australia's newest champion to the event, finished in fifth place, which saw the Japanese men take out the top three spots led by Yoshihiro Okumura who won the event in 1:47.41.

In the youth event, Daniel Smith of Australia won with 1:48.04. Jessicah Schipper added to her victory from the 100 fly, taking out the 200 fly in 2:07.83, while Takeshi Matsuda won his 200 fly event in 1:55.36. The event also marked the first national team debut of newly added, Lachlan Staples, who has replaced Nick D'Arcy on the roster, but finished in fourth and last place, with 1:58.75.

The meet concluded with the medley relays of both open and youth teams. Australia's A team finishing on top in the women's 400 medley relay, thanks to a 56.84 fly split by Schipper and 52.90 free split by Trickett. The Japanese men set a new All Corners record of 3:31.91, as the fastest medley relay team to swim on Australian land, a record that has stood since the Sydney Olympics in a time of 3:33.73 by the Americans. Irie took another punt at the 100 back world record but came up just short of 52.54, with a 52.62 handing over to Ryo Tateishi who split 59.16 in the breaststroke leg. Australia's A team of Delaney (53.84), Sprenger (1:00.27), Lauterstein (51.18) and Sullivan (48.10) came second in 3:33.39, Japan's B team in 3rd with 3:35.02 and despite the fastest anchor leg by Matt Targett with 48.09, the Australian B team finished in 4th.

Amid concerns that Australia may return from Rome without a gold medal to boast, this meet has done little to dispel such murmurings. Results say that Australia has won based on senior open results 167 to 162. However, the youth competition within the program existed for a reason, and the overall points score results in a final tally of 352-305, Japan's way.

Many claim that the reason for Australia's elites swimming well off their best is due to most being in hard training, whilst the Japanese have perhaps tapered.

"I've found the meet a good first stepping stone towards Rome with Japan's tough competition." Kyle Richardson told Swimming World. "It's been a great experience to have swum against Australia and Japan's best."

After the Australian team will split to contest various international meets including the illustrious Mare Nostrum tour, they will return for the Grand Prix in Sydney on June 20 for a final meet together before Rome.

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