Japanese Olympic Trials Continue to Produce Impressive Performances; Rikako Ikee Chasing 100 Freestyle Bid

Katsumi Nakamura

Japanese Olympic Trials Continue to Produce Impressive Performances; Rikako Ikee Chasing 100 Freestyle Bid

The Japanese roster for a home Olympic Games this summer in Tokyo grew by several names on Wednesday night, although one athlete who set a national record was not among those securing a bid. In addition to Shoma Sato, who posted the No. 2 time in history in the 200 breaststroke, Katsumi Nakamura (100 freestyle) and Suzuka Hasegawa (200 butterfly) earned individual swims for the Olympics.

On the outside looking in was Shui Kurokawa, who was the winner of the 800 freestyle and set a Japanese record in the process. Although Kurokawa clocked 7:49.55, his time did not meet the strict standards of qualification set by the Japanese Federation. Officials are requiring that Japanese swimmers match the time it took to reach the final of each event at the 2019 World Championships. For the 800 freestyle, that mark was 7:48.12. Finishing second behind Kurokawa was Shogo Takeda in 7:50.42.

In the men’s 100 freestyle, Nakamura got to the wall ahead of the field, thanks to a time of 48.23. That effort was quick enough to earn passage to the Olympics, although runnerup Katsuhiro Matsumoto, in 48,37, fell just shy of qualifying as an individual. Matsumoto, though, is headed to Tokyo in the 200 freestyle, where he set a national record.

Also qualifying for the Olympic Games was Hasegawa, who covered the 200 fly in 2:07.24. Hasegawa was more than a second ahead of second-place finisher Hiroko Makino, who was timed in 2:08.66.

In semifinal action, Rikako Ikee continued her strong meet by grabbing the top seed in the 100 freestyle. The Leukemia survivor, who earlier in the meet qualified for the Olympics as Japan’s butterfly leg in the medley relay, posted a mark of 54.36 with a negative split of 27.22-27.14. In the final, she will need to be equal to or faster than 53.31 to race the event individually in Tokyo.

The final of the 200 individual medley will be a duel between Kosuke Hagino, the reigning Olympic silver medalist in the event, and Daiya Seto, the reigning world champion. Hagino led qualifying into the final with a time of 1:58.07 while Seto, who is automatically qualified for the Olympics, followed in 1:58.30. Lurking in third place and trying to play spoiler is Shuya Matsumoto (1:58.97).

Ryosuke Irie claimed the top seed in the men’s 200 backstroke, going 1:57.53, and Yukino Miyasaka led a tightly bunched field in the women’s 200 breaststroke with an outing of 2:25.01. Five women head into the final under 2:26.