Friday, 20 May 2011

Japan Open - Day One - ジャパンオープン2011(50m)

The Japan Open (ジャパンオープン2011(50m))always seems to throw up some fast swims and the opening day was no exception. Here's a look at those who got the meet off with a bang:

• Aya Terakawa takes top billing after the joint second fastest 100m Backstroke of 2011. Her time of 59.35 sits behind only her own effort of 59.17 at Japanese Nationals. The swim also solidifies Terakawa as one of the most consistent 100 Backstrokers in the world right now. She is the only woman to have swum inside 60 seconds on three occasions this year, a feat she accomplised an incredible seven times last year. She won't go into Shanghai as the favourite, but don't be surprised to see her take home gold.

• Ryosuke Irie is another Japanese Backstroker who will be pushing for medals at Worlds. Today's effort of 53.11 is just a hundredth of a second off his own 2nd ranked time in the world. Irie's consistency on the major stage has come under scrutiny after an off performance at Pan Pacs, but in the non-Camille Lacourt tier of 100 Backstrokers, on this year's evidence, Irie is at the top of that pile.

• Kosuke Kitajima suffered another domestic defeat in the 100 Breaststroke losing out to Ryo Tateishi 1:00.55 to 1:01.27. This speaks to two things a) Japan have crazy depth in the men's Breaststroke, and b) there is no reason to panic for Kitajima. We saw the same rope-a-dope routine in 2010 before he swept all before him at last year's Pan Pacs. Fear not Kitajima fans.

• New records are a rare thing in swimming now, so all should be celebrated with extra vigour. Especially when a 15 year old girl swims a stunning 1:07.10 to break the Japanese Junior record. That is exactly what Kanako Watanabe did tonight, moving her up to 6th in the world. The time will not worry the likes of Rebecca Soni, Jessica Hardy and Leisel Jones too much this year, but with another year of improvement ahead of her before London, we could be seeing a new Breaststroke star emerging. The first part of Japan's medley relay is beginning to look menacing with Terakawa on Back and the emerging Watanabe on Breast.

• Think Japan is just a nation with a few stars but little else? Think again. Japan is emerging as one of the deepest pools of talent in world swimming right now. The men's 200 Free showed that depth tonight with the top four guys all swimming sub-1:50. A lack of a superstar 200 Freestyler in the mould of Phelps, Lochte, Park, Sun Yang etc. is just about the only thing holding back the Japanese 4 x 200 from challenging for gold in that event.

• Another 200 Fly race, another world class time from Takeshi Matsuda (1:55.76). No-one expects Phelps to lose this race in Shanghai (or London), but if he were to lose out to anyone, my money would be on Matsuda. Also noteworthy, the top seven guys all broke 2:00.

Full Results


  1. No-one spect Phelps to lose 200 fly in Shanghai or London? In Shanghai, ok, he has some chances ( although not big chances), and in London the winner will be hungarian Bence Biczo...easily!!!

  2. Phelps will be there when it really counts, d world's better watch out for him!!! Last year @ US Nationals he went 1:57 & a month later @ Pan Pacs he had taken the race in 1:54, am I correct? With his amazing swimming background plus all his work ethics that lead me to believe Phelps will go at least 1:52 in the 200 fly @ Worlds...and will break his own WR @ d London Games. NEVER underestimate the Greatest of ALL-Time man!!! Bence Biczo to win gold in London?....wat a joke!!

  3. who is bence biczo?

  4. Hungarian guy, European Junior Champ last year in 1:55.8. Absolute beast in the 200 Fly. Huge talent.

    FYI - I picked him for silver in the 200 Fly in London -

  5. A 1.55.8 for a 17 year old is good but not enough on its own to predict greatness. Knowing the Hungarian gruelling training regime it is unlikely he got there by sheer talent.

    As a perspective Jon Sieben won 84 gold in 1.57 in speedos at 17. Jayden Hadler is 1.56.2 with some months left on the clock. Anyhow good luck to Bizco.

    Ditto Watanabe -over the 200 she is just ahead of her compatriot 92 14 year old champ.

  6. Watanabe is still 14 yo, and she has not yet swum the 200 yet. She will do it today.

    I think she is the real deal, she is also fast in 50 too, that is a sign of greatness. I think she will follow in the foot step of Leisel Jones, who as a 15 yo in Sydney swam 1:07.49 to win silver.
    As a 14 yo, she is already faster than Jones in 50 and 100. We'll what her time is like in the 200 today.

  7. Megann Quann was also 15 swimming gold 67.0 in Sydney. She never improved on that.

    Thats just the wauy breast is for young girls. Ditto Agnes somebody at 14 with a 2.25 200 in Atlanta ...never improved . Both Agnes & Maghann tried very hard .

    Most young girls end up hating the stroke -as do some young male stars.

    But good for Watanabe. Japan is looking good for medley relay ...5th?

    ps Jayden (such a rage name for young'uns ) will be 18 late Sept .

  8. Watanabe just swam 2:23.90

    When you look at previous young breaststrokers, including amanda beard, none of them swam extremely fast in all three distances. Not even Jones.

    I think this watanabe kid is something really special.

    Oh BTW, agnes kovacs DID improve. She won gold in Sydney 2:24.03.

  9. Re Kovacs - hanks for the reminder. I remember her later coaches complaining that she had not learnt /developed any other stroke all through her young swim training.

    Watanabe comes from a different angle than Jones -more from the 200 .THerefore I can deduct that she is quite heavily trained since young . I base this o her 2.25.2 in August 2010 . Not knowing her birthday either a 13 year old or just 14.

    Jones by contrast was not in the worlds top 100 in 1999. Jones 14 year old times were 1.08.4 & 2.26.4. liesel held not a single under 13 state record as she dd not begin serious training till 13.

    Another difference is that jones was thrown right into the deep end & a home Olympics without the less pressured rise of Watanabe.

    A sbetter postmark will be her performance in a big meet -already having fallen short in Japan trials.

    She was in Sydney in Feb & came close to (equalled /beat?) Liesels Aust 14 yr rec in 2.26 .4