Industry News: Kosuke Kitajima Signs With Arena/Descente

By Hideki Mochizuki, Swimming World Japanese correspondent

TOKYO, Japan, March 28. DESCENTE Ltd., the Japanese distributor for the Arena brand, announced today that it has signed Kosuke Kitajima. The two-year contract begins April 1, 2012 for an undisclosed amount.

Kitajima will begin wearing Arena at the Japanese Olympic Trials, April 2-8, at the Tatsumi Aquatics Center in Tokyo. Kitajima had previously contracted with Mizuno.

Kitajima will be shooting for a pair of Olympic qualifying cuts as set by Japan in the 100-meter breast (1:00.39) and 200-meter breast (2:10.27). To make the team for Japan, swimmers much finished first or second, and clear these cuts.

Kitajima currently trains at the Trojan Swim Club with head coach Dave Salo, and will face some serious challenges in his key events, especially in the 200 breast.

Kitajima will be vying to become the first man to win the same event at three consecutive Olympics after winning the 100 and 200 breaststroke events in 2004 and 2008. Michael Phelps is the only other man eligible to accomplish the feat this year.

Here is the latest Japanese top 5 for breaststroke (from April 1, 2011 to February 29, 2012):

100m breast
1. Kosuke Kitajima, 59.44
2. Ryo Tateishi, 1:00.31
3. Tetsuya Wakatsuki, 1:00.72
4. Naoya Tomita, 1:00.93
5. Takahiro Kaneko, 1:00.97

200m breast
1. Naoya Tomita, 2:08.25
2. Kosuke Kitajima, 2:08.63
3. Kazuki Ohtsuka, 2:09.94
4. Ryo Tateishi, 2:10.40
5. Akihiro Yamaguchi, 2:10.82