The Week That Was: Japanese Swimmers Show Out Well in Kitajima Cup in Tokyo

Ryosuke Irie was one of the top performers at the Kitajima Cup in Tokyo. Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

The Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

The Kitajima Cup that occurred this last weekend showed some very impressive swims from members of the Japanese national team about 180 days out from the Olympic Games. Ryosuke IrieShoma Sato and Daiya Seto got the new year rolling with their various efforts in Tokyo this past weekend.

But the Japanese were not the only ones who swam well. The Euro Meet in Luxembourg also provided some sparks from international superstars Sarah Sjostrom and Florent Manaudou as well as Worlds silver medalist Mykhailo Romanchuk.

Read below the five biggest stories in the Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

The Week That Was #5: Jon Sieben to be Inducted into International Swimming Hall of Fame

Jon Sieben_1984

Jon Sieben on the podium during the 1984 Olympics Photo Courtesy: Jon Sieben

By Meg Keller-Marvin

Aussie Jon Sieben set the world record with a blistering 1:57.04 in the 200m butterfly, winning the event in Los Angeles, in the major upset of the 1984 Olympic Games.  He surprised everyone and beat Michael Gross of Germany. The record stood for 11 months until Gross regained it in 1985.  Sieben continued swimming through two more Olympic cycles, 1988, Seoul and 1992 Barcelona.

Come and meet Sieben in person and hear his incredible life story at the ISHOF Induction dinner on Saturday, April 25, 2020.

#4: All-American Mackenzie Padington to Transfer to NC State

By Andy Ross

NCAA All-American Mackenzie Padington announced she will be transferring to NC State University next fall after spending two seasons at the University of Minnesota. Padington took an Olympic redshirt this season to try and make the Canadian Olympic team as she will be a junior next fall on an NC State team that could contend for a national title.

Padington finished third in the 500 and 1650 free at last year’s NCAAs for the University of Minnesota, swimming a 4:35.21 in the 500 and 15:47.16 in the 1650. She also finished 37th in the 200 free at 1:46.74.

Padington originally took an Olympic redshirt this year and then revealed that she wasn’t going to return to school at Minnesota and she would continue her schooling elsewhere.

The Canadian women’s Olympic Trials are just days after the conclusion of NCAA’s, beginning March 30 in Toronto. The native of Campbell River, British Columbia, has been training with the High Performance Program in Victoria, B.C. She competed for Canada in the 2019 World Championships, finishing 24th in the 400-meter freestyle and 18th in the 800 free.

The Week That Was #3: Sjostrom, Manaudou, Romanchuk Light Up Euro Meet in Luxembourg


Mykhailo Romanchuk won three events in Luxembourg. Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

By Liz Byrnes, European Correspondent

Many of Europe’s best swimmers were in attendance at the Euro Meet in Luxembourg to get their first taste of racing in 2020. Sarah Sjostrom won the 50 fly (25.12), 100 free (53.12), 100 fly (56.71) and 50 free (24.14), as she continued to show why she is one of the top swimmers in the world.

Florent Manaudou of France, in the middle of a comeback to the sport of swimming, won the 50 free at 21.56, showing he is in good shape to win a medal in that event in Tokyo for the third consecutive Games. He also was third in the 50 fly at 23.07, but that is not an Olympic event.

Fellow Energy Standard teammate Mykhailo Romanchuk won the distance triple with victories in the 400 (3:50.24), 800 (7:48.90) and 1500 (14:53.38). Romanchuk represents the Ukraine internationally and is one of the favorites to take the inaugural 800 free gold in Tokyo this summer.

#2: Legendary Basketball Player Kobe Bryant Passes Away, Leaves Gap in Sporting World


Kobe Bryant with Michael Phelps at the 2017 Golden Goggles in Los Angeles. Photo Courtesy: Annie Grevers

By Craig Lord, Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

Kobe Bryant, the 41-year-old retired NBA star and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, were among nine people who lost their lives in a helicopter that crashed near Calabasas, California, on Sunday.

The party was travelling to an academy where Bryant coached his daughter’s team. Bryant is rated as one of the best players in NBA history. Fans gathered at Staples Center in Los Angeles, where Bryant delivered five championship titles with the Lakers.

Thoughts are with the Bryant family, while the player’s sporting family of fellow players through coaches and fans, paid tribute to Kobe Bryant (son, brother, husband, father, winner of five N.B.A. titles, two Olympic golds) in various ways, this NBA tribute on ESPN a poignant, emotional and reflective moment for many.

The Week That Was #1: Seto, Sato, Irie Light Up Kitajima Cup in Tokyo


Photo Courtesy: PATRICK B. KRAEMER

By John Lohn & Craig Lord, Swimming World Editors

The home country of the Olympics has not swam that well in the last two games, with Great Britain and Brazil buckling under the pressure in 2012 and 2016. Will that trend continue in 2020? We are still 179 days away from the first events of the Games, but it looks like the Japanese team will have a very competitive team in their home country. The Kitajima Cup this past weekend showed some really good performances from veterans of the Japanese team.

Ryosuke Irie celebrated his 30th birthday in style with a fast 52.59 victory over 100m backstroke on the first day of racing at the Kosuke Kitajima Cup in Tokyo.

Irie’s effort was not far from his Japanese record of 52.24, set in shiny suit at the 2009 Australian Championships. His effort today would have taken silver at the World Championships last year in Gwangju a slither behind China’s Xu Jiayu and a 52.43.

Junior Shoma Sato broke through with a huge 2:07 in the 200 breast; a cracking 2:07.58 victory over former world-record holder Ippei Watanabe, on 2:07.86.

That rocketed Sato, 18, from 10th to 5th in the all-time Japanese 200m breaststroke rankings and from 61st to 19th on the world all-time rankings. An alarm has been rung by a teenager in the ranks of Japan’s top men in one of its top events.

Then there was Daiya Seto. It might not be the intention of Seto each time he enters the water, but the Japanese star is firing off warning shots with regularity during the early stages of this Olympic season. Seto’s latest attention-grabbing performance arrived on Saturday at the Kitajima Cup, where he clocked a personal best of 4:06.09 to easily win the 400-meter individual medley.

He was just 0.04sec away from the Asian record held by long-time home rival Kosuke Hagino.

The Week That Was.