Keita Sunama Touches Out Ryosuke Irie in 200 Backstroke, Hasegawa Hits 57.4 100 Fly in Tokyo

Keita Sunama World University Games 2015
Keita Sunama. Photo Courtesy: Gwangju Summer Universiade Organizing Committee

Members of the Japanese national swim team returned to racing this weekend in Tokyo at the Tokyo Special Swimming Tournament. The biggest highlight of the day aside from Rikako Ikee’s return to competition after a battle with leukemia was Keita Sunama’s 200 backstroke as well as Suzuka Hasegawa’s 100 butterfly with a 57.49 as the 20-year-old won the race over IM specialist Yui Ohashi (59.16).

Hasegawa has been primarily a 200 butterflyer as she was the silver medalist at the 2017 World Juniors in the 200 and also reached the final at the 2017 Worlds at age 17. The 57.4 puts her in the top ten in the world for 2020 as she begins a new training cycle ahead of the Olympic Games in Tokyo.


Suzuka Hasegawa. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

World Rankings (Women’s 100 Butterfly)

  1. 56.36, Emma McKeon, AUS
  2. 56.71, Sarah Sjostrom, SWE
  3. 56.95, Anastasiya Shkurdai, BLR
  4. 57.33, Kelsi Dahlia, USA
  5. 57.34, Regan Smith, USA
  6. 57.49, Suzuka Hasegawa, JPN
  7. 57.65, Amanda Kendall, USA
  8. 57.85, Brianna Throssell, AUS
  9. 57.93, Anna Ntountounaki, GRE
  10. 57.98, Kendyl Stewart, USA

Ohashi did not swim her best event, the 400 IM, as Rio Olympic finalist Sakiko Shimizu won in her absence with a 4:41.24, winning by over 12 seconds. Shimizu was slightly off her 4:38 earlier this year as she seeks to regain her place in the Olympic final after finishing eighth in Rio. Ippei Miyamoto took the men’s 400 IM final with a 4:16.18 as reigning Olympic champ Kosuke Hagino did not race the event and reigning World champ Daiya Seto was not in attendance.

Hagino, who sat out the majority of 2019 to rekindle his love for the sport, won the 200 freestyle with a 1:48.95, just out-touching Yoshida Fuyu (1:48.97) in his pursuit of a third Olympic Games as he is the reigning Olympic champ in the 400 IM. Rio Shirai won the women’s 200 freestyle with a 1:58.35 ahead of Chihiro Igarashia (1:58.57).


Reona Aoki. Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Reona Aoki had an impressive swim in the 100 breaststroke with a 1:06.65, which was just a couple tenths off her swim from the World Championships where she finished in fourth place and just off the podium. Aoki, 25, put herself sixth in the world rankings for 2020.

World Rankings (Women’s 100 Breaststroke)

  1. 1:05.74, Lilly King, USA
  2. 1:06.43, Molly Hannis, USA
  3. 1:06.44, Kelsey Wog, CAN
  4. 1:06.54, Annie Lazor, USA
  5. 1:06.60, Lisa Mamie, SUI
  6. 1:06.65, Reona Aoki, JPN
  7. 1:06.85, Martina Carraro, ITA
  8. 1:06.86, Arianna Castiglioni, ITA
  9. 1:06.90, Ida Hulkko, FIN
  10. 1:07.18, Yu Jingyao, CHN

In the men’s 200 backstroke, Keita Sunama won with a 1:56.05 as it is his new season best. Sunama beat Japanese record holder Ryosuke Irie in the process as the 30-year-old finished in second with a 1:56.21. Sunama was a 1:58 at the 2019 Worlds and finished 18th and out of the semi finals while Irie finished in sixth. Yubara Rika won the women’s 200 back with a 2:12.87.

Other winners on the night came from Yuki Matsumura in the men’s 100 breaststroke (1:00.46), Junya Koga in the 50 backstroke (25.04), Kawane Matsuhiro in the 50 freestyle (22.31) and Imai Tsuki in the 50 freestyle (25.22).

Koga was initially suspended for four years in 2018 after failing a doping test for ostarine and ligrandrol which he claimed came as a result of taking dietary supplements.

In August 2019, the Court of Arbitration for Sport cut that to two years after it was found that his supplements may have been contaminated.

It meant his ban ran out in May 2020 – too late to make the Japan team for Tokyo 2020 had it gone ahead as scheduled but now in place to try to qualify for the rescheduled Games next year.

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