Ohashi & Hagino Take 400 IM Titles at Kitajima Cup

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Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

The Kitajima Cup continued Saturday from Tokyo with many of Japan’s best in action in the lead-up to a home Olympics. Rikako Ikee, who is on the recovery from a battle with Leukemia in 2019, raced in the 100 freestyle with a 55.35 for a fourth place finish behind first place winner Natsumi Sakai at 54.48 and Chihiro Igarashi in second at 54.66.

Results

Japan’s gold medal favorites for Tokyo, Yui Ohashi and Kosuke Hagino raced in their pet events, the 400 IM. Ohashi took the women’s race at 4:37.22 as it was the first time she has raced a long course 400 IM in some time. Ohashi had the fastest time in short course meters in the ISL last season as she is looking to make her Olympic debut this summer and is a gold medal threat in both the 200 and 400 IM. She won ahead of Sakiko Shimizu at 4:38.59 as they are a solid 1-2 punch for the Japanese moving forward to this summer.

Hagino, the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the 400 IM, won the men’s race at 4:13.91. He was a 4:13.3 a couple weeks ago in December as he also had the fastest time in the world in the short course meters 400 IM at the ISL. On Saturday he won ahead of Tomoru Honda at 4:16.15 as Honda was also a 4:13 in December. The race was notably missing Daiya Seto, the reigning World champ in the 400 IM who was serving a suspension by the Japanese Swimming Federation through the 2020 calendar year.

Ryosuke Irie, Japan’s long-time resident backstroke lead-off, won the 200 back with a 1:57.11 as he is aiming for what would be his fourth Olympics this summer. Irie is one of the most consistent swimmers in the world in the 200 back as he was a 1:55 a few weeks ago in December. He won ahead of Riku Matsuyama at 1:59.02, who broke 2:00 for the very first time in his career at age 19.

Katsuhiro Matsumoto, fresh off his Japanese record in the 200 free on Friday, won the 100 free at 48.58 ahead of Katsumi Nakamura (48.75) and Kaiya Seki (49.12). Matsumoto elected to swim the 100 free instead of the 400, which was won by Kazuki Imoto at 3:51.34 just ahead of Kenta Ozaki (3:51.80).

Other winners on the night were Riyu Namba in the 400 free (4:11.36) and Rio Shirai in the 200 back (2:13.69).

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