Off Strong Start in 50 Freestyle, Rikako Ikee in Position to Win Third Event at Japanese Olympic Trials

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Off Strong Start in 50 Freestyle, Rikako Ikee in Position to Win Third Event at Japanese Olympic Trials

As the Japanese Olympic Trials near their conclusion, all eyes will be on Rikako Ikee as she seeks to qualify for this summer’s Olympic Games in an individual event. Already ticketed for Tokyo as a member of a pair of Japanese relays, Ikee is chasing an individual bid in the 50-meter freestyle.

During Friday night’s preliminaries, Ikee posted the second-fastest time, going 25.39. That swim was topped only by the 25.33 of Rika Omoto, who will be the top seed for the semifinals. The Japanese Federation requires a time of 24.46 or faster to qualify to race the 50 free at the Tokyo Games.

Even if Ikee comes up short of qualifying for the Olympics in an individual event, it will not take the luster off what has been a special week. Ikee is two years removed from being diagnosed with Leukemia and embarking on a fight for her life. Now, she is free of the disease and ahead of schedule in returning to the elite form she knew before being stricken by her disease. Ikee has already won the 100 butterfly and 100 freestyle at Trials, but her times were short of the necessary qualifying times for individual action at the Games.

In the men’s 50 freestyle, national record-holder Shinri Shioura touched the wall in 22.21, followed by Kosuke Matsui, who went 22.22. Katsumi Nakamura, the winner of the 100 freestyle, moved on in sixth with a mark of 22.42.