Japan Open: Yui Ohashi Swims 4:35 400 IM; Irie Swims Season Best in 100 Back

Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

The second day of the 2021 Japan Open concluded Friday with many of Japan’s Olympians getting some fine-tuning racing in before the Olympic Games swimming start in 50 days.


400 IM gold medal favorite Yui Ohashi swam a solid 4:35.92 in winning that event on Friday at the Chiba International General Swimming Center at the Japan Open. Ohashi is ranked second globally among swimmers that have qualified for the Olympic Games as she was a 4:35.14 already this year and will be the gold medal favorite come the Games in seven weeks. Ohashi had the fastest time in the world last year in short course meters in both the 200 and 400 IM and will enter the home Olympics as a gold medal favorite. She won ahead of 15-year-old Mio Narita (4:40.88) who broke the national junior record. She won ahead of Ageha Tanigawa (4:41.21) who will be Japan’s second swimmer in this event at the Games.

Another one of Japan’s gold medal favorites for the Games, Katsuhiro Matsumoto won the 200 freestyle final with a solid 1:46.17 as he has the third fastest time in the world this year among those that have qualified for Tokyo. Matsumoto won silver in the 200 free at the 2019 Worlds and will just be focusing on the 200 free for individual events. He won tonight ahead of Konosui Yanagimoto (1:47.86) and Tomoru Honda (1:48.04) as Japan will have just one representative in the 200 freestyle for Tokyo but have a 4×200 free relay team that could reach the podium, like they did in Rio with a bronze. Yanagimoto will swim in Tokyo for Team Japan in the 4×200 free relay.

31-year-old Ryosuke Irie, who is approaching is fourth Olympics, won the 100 backstroke with a 53.00 which is faster than his 53.13 from earlier this year. He won bronze in this event at the 2012 Games and also made the final in Rio. He will be swimming in his fourth Games in Tokyo as the only Japanese representative. He won tonight ahead of Keita Sunama (54.26) and Ryota Naito (54.78) as 2009 World champ Junya Koga (54.80) was fourth. Irie is currently ranked ninth in the world among those swimmers qualified for Tokyo. Irie should be stronger in the 200 back where he is a medal contender.

Chihiro Igarashi, who is on the team for the 4×200 free relay, just missed the FINA A standard at the Japan Open in the individual 200 free with a 1:57.53 as it was a 1:57.28. She is already on the team for relays as Japan’s free relays should have a big chance to get in the final. She won ahead of Nagisa Ikemoto (1:59.18) and Kinuko Mochizuki (1:59.64) as Igarashi and Ikemoto will both be swimming on the 4×200 free relay for Japan at the Games. Japan is currently ranked ninth in the world in the 4×200 free relay.

Anna Konishi also just missed the FINA A standard in the 100 back with a 1:00.34 as she won ahead of Natsumi Sakai (1:00.53) here at the Japan Open in Chiba. Konishi and Sakai have both been under a minute already this year in the 100 back but will just be on relay duty come the Games with Sakai swimming on the 4×100 free relay and Konishi selected to lead off the medley relay.

Hikaru Endo won the men’s 1500 freestyle with a 15:15.92 ahead of Ikki Imoto (15:19.02), while Reona Aoki (30.91) and Yuki Matsumura (27.49) won te non-Olympic 50 breast titles.