Star-Studded Finals; First Japanese Man Under 22 in 50 Free Headline Final Night in Tokyo

Ryosuke Irie

TOKYO, Japan, April 13. ALL sorts of storylines played themselves out during the final night of action at the Japanese Long Course Nationals in Tokyo. Some of the deepest finales in the world occurred tonight as well as a barrier-breaking national record by Shinri Shioura.

In one of the most high-profile battles of the meet, Ryosuke Irie downed Kosuke Hagino in the men’s 200-meter back, 1:53.91 to 1:54.23. Irie became the first man under 1:54 this year as his time topped Hagino’s previously top-ranked time of 1:54.77. Hagino, meanwhile, bettered that time to still stand second in the world. Yuki Shirai claimed third tonight in the distance dorsal with a 1:57.32.

The men’s 100-meter fly featured the top two times in the world this year, the first under 52 seconds in fact. Takuro Fujii raced to victory in 51.84, while Hirofumi Ikebata snatched second in 51.98. Both swims beat the previous top time of 52.03 set by Joeri Verlinden yesterday at the Eindhoven Cup. Takaya Yasue placed third tonight in 52.57.

Shinri Shioura became the first man from Japan to ever break 22 seconds in the men’s 50-meter freestyle when he dropped a 21.88 to win the splash-and-dash tonight. That performance beat his previous Japanese record of 22.02 from the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona, and moved him to sixth in the world this year. Kenta Ito took second in 22.36, while Katsumi Nakamura earned third in 22.38.

Kanako Watanabe grabbed the second spot in the world rankings with a winning time of 2:21.09 in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke. Only Rikke Moller Pedersen has been faster with a 2:19.94 from the Danish Open this year. Watanabe also moved within striking distance of Satomi Suzuki’ and Rie Kaneto’s shared Japanese record of 2:20.72. Tonight, Kaneto placed second in 2:21.58 to move to third in the world rankings, while Mio Motegi finished third in 2:23.81. That swim made her fifth in the world.

The event proved to be so deep tonight that Miho Takahashi (2:42.21) and Runa Imai (2:24.53) also bettered their previously world rankings. Suzuki, meanwhile, wound up seventh overall in 2:26.30.

Marie Kamura grabbed the women’s 200-meter backstroke title with a 2:09.76. That performance pushed her to eighth in the SwimVortex world rankings, while Sayaka Akase took second this evening in 2:10.34. Anna Konishi picked up third overall in 2:11.95.

Natsumi Hoshi topped the women’s 100-meter fly tonight with a 58.81, while Rino Hosoda claimed second in 59.40. Tomoyo Fukuda finished third in the finale with a 59.48.

Kazuki Kohinata hit the wall in 2:09.67 to win the men’s 200-meter breaststroke. That swim put him sixth in the world rankings. Yuta Oshikiri placed second in 2:10.23, while Yikihiro Takahashi took third in 2:10.24. Those two moved to eighth and ninth in the world. Surprisingly, world-record holder Akihiro Yamaguchi finished in fourth with a 2:10.33, well off his world-record time of 2:07.01 from the summer of 2012. Yamaguchi has had a tough time reclaiming the magic he found in 2012, and has been unable to claim the mantel as a top breaststroker out of Japan.

Kohei Yamamoto posted the third-fastest time of the year in the men’s 800-meter free with a 7:51.88 for the win. That’s only behind Gabriel Detti (7:42.74) and Gregorio Paltrinieri (7:43.01) in the rankings this year. Yohei Takiguchi finished second tonight in 7:56.49, while Yuto Sato placed third in 7:56.96 as the race for second proved to be the closest of the event.

Chihiro Igarashi claimed the women’s 1500-meter freestyle title with a 16:32.93, while Yukimi Moriyama snared second overall in 16:38.26. Yumi Kida wound up third in 16:44.75. On the other end of the spectrum, Miki Uchida topped the women’s 50-meter free in 25.49. Yayoi Matsumoto finished second in 25.51 with Misaki Yamaguchi snagging third in 25.74.