Japan Begins National Championships; Tomoru Honda Edges Daiya Seto in 400 IM

Tomoru Honda -- Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu/ISL

Japan Begins National Championships; Tomoru Honda Edges Daiya Seto in 400 IM

On Wednesday, Japan opened its 2022 selection meet for the World Championships in Budapest set for this June. The meet will run for four days and include all of Japan’s top swimmers, including double IM gold medalist Yui Ohashi. The first day of competition featured a handful of impressive performances, including Reona Aoki just missing the all-time top-10 in the women’s 100 breaststroke, but the racing highlight was a showdown in the men’s 400 IM.

Daiya Seto kicked off the meet in the 400 IM, the event in which he is the defending world champion, but he finished a shocking ninth in the race at the Tokyo Olympics last year after entering as a gold-medal favorite. Against his domestic competition Wednesday, Seto trailed Tomoru Honda, the Olympic silver medalist in the 200 fly, for almost the entire race. Seto passed Honda on the first 50 meters of freestyle, but Honda had one final surge left, and he got to the wall seven hundredths ahead, 4:10.75 to 4:10.82.

Meanwhile, Aoki recorded the performance of the day with her 1:05.19 in the 100 breast. That swim made her the 11th-fastest performer in history, one spot behind 2008 Olympic gold medalist Leisel Jones on the all-time list, and the time would have been quick enough to win a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Veteran Kanako Watanabe took second in 1:06.97.

In other men’s action, Katsuhiro Matsumoto took first in the 100 freestyle in 48.57, while Katsumi Nakamura took second in 48.90. Two swimmers broke the 1:00-barrier in the men’s 100 breast, with Ryuya Mura winning in 59.31 ahead of Yoshiteru Yamanaka (59.85).

In the women’s 400 free, Miyu Namba won in a quick time of 4:05.25, just six hundredths off the Japanese record of 4:05.19, while Waka Kobori, who was 11th in the event at the Olympics, took second in 4:06.54.

In the women’s 50 butterfly, Ai Soma edged out Rikako Ikee for the win, 25.76 to 25.78, while in the men’s event, Naoki Mizunuma put up a time of 23.33 to win a tight race against Kengo Ida (23.46) and Yuya Tanaka (23.48).

Full results (in Japanese) are available here.