Ryosuke Irie, Rikako Ikee Shine at Japanese National Championships

Ryosuke Irie -- Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu / ISL

Ryosuke Irie, Rikako Ikee Shine at Japanese National Championships

For almost a decade-and-a-half, Ryosuke Irie has been among the world’s best backstrokers, and he has qualified for the Olympic final in the 200 back at each of the last four Olympics. He peaked with a silver medal in the event at the 2012 London Olympics, where he also took bronze in the 100 back and helped Japan capture silver in the 400 medley relay, and he broke the world record in the 200 back in 2009, although the mark was not approved because of the controversy around polyurethane suits. Now, Irie is 32 years old, but he is still recording quick times in the backstroke events.

At Japan’s National Championships, Irie swept all three backstroke races. He won the 100 back in 52.94 before also taking first in the 50 back (24.83) and 200 back (1:56.99). None of those times would likely have him in contention to win individual medals at the World Championships, but he should be equipped to return to international finals again this year after finishing seventh in the 200 back at the Tokyo Olympics and missing the Olympic final in the 100 back by just one hundredth.

Rikako Ikee will return to the World Championships this summer after she missed the 2019 edition while battling leukemia. The 21-year-old won the 100 free against domestic competition in 54.02, and she also claimed the 100 fly in 57.89.

The biggest star in Japanese men’s swimming, Daiya Seto, won the 200 IM in 1:57.09 as he prepares to defend his world title in that event this summer, while women’s IM double gold medalist Yui Ohashi finished second in the 200 IM as Rika Omoto touched her out by six hundredths, 2:11.66 to 2:11.72.

In the men’s 200 fly, Olympic silver medalist Tomoru Honda took first in 1:54.04. Honda held off Seto to win the 400 IM earlier in the meet, while Katsuhiro Matsumoto won the 200 free in 1:46.24. Matsumoto was the silver medalist in the event at the 2019 World Championships, but he finished just out of the semifinals in the event at the Tokyo Games.

Miyu Namba, who finished first in the 400 free on the first day of competition, added wins in the 200 free (1:58.24) and 800 free (8:29.07), while Reona Aoki followed up her blistering 1:05.19 effort in the 100 breast with another win in the 50 breast, as she clocked 30.27. Other women’s winners included Ageha Tanigawa in the 400 IM (4:36.45), Rio Shirai in the 100 back (1:00.07), Miki Takahashi in the 50 back (28.07), Kina Hayashi in the 200 fly (2:06.41), Hitomi Komiyama in the 50 free (25.41), Marina Kobayashi in the 200 back (2:10.74) and Runa Imai in the 200 breast (2:24.40)

On the men’s side, Naoki Mizunuma put up a time of 50.86 to win the 100 fly, and Kanto Hanawa snuck under 2:08 on his way to a triumph in the 200 breast (2:07.99). Shogo Takeda was the winner of the 1500 free (15:03.13), while Yoshiteru Yamanaka took the 50 breast (27.36). Naito Ehara won the 400 free (3:47.74), and Shinri Shioura took the win in the 50 free (21.91).

Full results (in Japanese) are available here.