Katsuhiro Matsumoto Sets Japanese Record in 200 Freestyle at Olympic Trials

Katsuhiro Matsumoto (photo: Mike Lewis)

Katsuhiro Matsumoto Sets Japanese Record in 200 Freestyle at Olympic Trials; Big 200 Fly Battle Brewing

The Japanese Olympic Trials have already featured some major headlines, most notably the qualification of Leukemia survivor Rikako Ikee for this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. On Monday, Katsuhiro Matsumoto brought more fireworks to the competition when he established a national record in the 200-meter freestyle.

The silver medalist in the event at the 2019 World Championships, Matsumoto delivered a no-doubt-about-it victory at Trials, clocking a time of 1:44.65. Matsumoto held the former record at 1:45.13, but his move into the sub-1:45 domain was a major step toward contending for Olympic gold. Matsumoto was aggressive on the way out, splitting 50.42 at the 100-meter mark, and held together over the closing 100 meters.

Matsumoto was unchallenged, as runnerup Konosuke Yanagimoto touched the wall in 1:47.45. Third place went to Kosuke Hagino, the reigning Olympic champion in the 400 individual medley who opted to bypass that event. Hagino was timed in 1:47.72 and still has the 200 individual medley and 200 backstroke on his program.

The women’s 100 breaststroke produced a pair of Olympic qualifiers in Kanako Watanabe and Reona Aoki. Covering her first lap in 31.61, to the 30.88 of Aoki, Watanabe used her closing speed to take the victory in 1:06.51, with Aoki just behind in 1:06.56. Third place was occupied by Satomi Suzuki in 1:07.18.

A longtime presence on the international stage, Ryosuke Irie earned a spot on the Japanese squad which will compete in a home Games when he won the 100 backstroke in 53.13, easily ahead of the 54.04 of Masaki Kaneko. In the women’s version of the event, Anna Konishi was the only athlete to break a minute, thanks to an effort of 59.93.

The final of the men’s 200 butterfly is shaping up to be a spectacular clash, as six men were in the 1:56 range or faster, led by Tomoru Honda, who clocked in at 1:54.93. Asian record-holder Daiya Seto was next in 1:55.56 and will be seeking his third event for the Tokyo Games, to accompany his automatic bids in the 200 individual medley and 400 individual medley. Teppei Moromoto qualified third in 1:56.11, with Daiki Tanaka next at 1:56.12.

In other semifinal action, Yui Ohashi claimed the top seed for the final of the women’s 200 individual medley in 2:10.74 and Chihiro Igarashi was quickest in the women’s 200 freestyle with a swim of 1:58.90.

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