Naoki Mizunuma Cruises to Top Seed in 100 Butterfly at Japanese Olympic Trials

Naoki Mizunuma (photo: Mike Lewis)

Naoki Mizunuma Cruises to Top Seed in 100 Butterfly at Japanese Olympic Trials

Ahead of a much-anticipated night of finals, the sixth day of preliminaries at the Japanese Olympic Trials was relatively tame. Only three events were held on Thursday morning, with the women’s 800-meter freestyle followed by the men’s 100 butterfly and the women’s 200 backstroke. The 100 fly was certainly the most-enticing of the events.

Naoki Mizunuma qualified fastest into the semifinals of the 100 fly, as his effort of 51.92 was the lone sub-52 performance of the morning. Takeshi Kawamoto followed in 52.08, with Yuya Tanaka placing third in 52.17. In fourth was Katsuhiro Matsumoto, who went 52.42 and is looking to add another individual event to his Olympic program, which already includes the 200 freestyle.

The women’s 200 backstroke went off without top seed Rio Shirai, who struggled earlier in the week at half the distance. In the 100 backstroke, Shirai was fourth in the final, more than a second off her entry time. Quickest in the prelims of the 200 back was Marina Furubayashi in 2:11.72.

In the women’s 800 freestyle, Miyu Namba claimed the top seed for the final behind a time of 8:33.74. She was followed in the second position by Waka Kobori in 8:34.84.

The Thursday night finals will be closely watched for the results of the women’s 100 freestyle and men’s 200 individual medley. In the 100 freestyle, Leukemia survivor Rikako Ikee is targeting a time of 53.31 to qualify for the Tokyo Games on an individual basis. Ikee is already qualified as a member of Japan’s medley relay. Meanwhile, reigning world champion Daiya Seto and reigning Olympic silver medalist Kosuke Hagino will battle in the 200 medley. Seto is already qualified for the Olympics in the event, by virtue of his world-champion status.

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