Weekend Roundup: Japanese & Chinese Swimmers Continue To Shine
Satomi Suzuki uncorked a 30.66 in the 50m breast -- a new Japanese record and not too far off Chen Huijia's (China) Asian record of 30.46 from 2009. This is now the third-fastest performance in the world this year behind Jennie Johansson of Sweden (30.57) and Yulia Efimova of Russia (29.88).
However, the most impressive swim of the night came from Yui Ohhashi in the women's 400m IM. Yui dropped a sizzling fast 4:31.42 -- a new Japanese record and the fastest time in the world this year by 3 1/2 seconds. Ye Shiwen (China) still holds the Asian record with a 4:28.43 thanks to her infamous final 100 meters at the 2012 London Olympics en route to gold.
Ryosuke Irie, a mainstay in the backstroke events on the international level for close to a decade, claimed the men's 100m backstroke title in 53.46 -- the fourth-fastest time in the world this year.
Saturday night saw some quick performances on both the women's and men's side in the 200m butterfly and 200m IM events. In the women's 200m fly, Suzuka Hasegawa uncorked a speedy 2:06.29 -- good for a new junior world record and fastest time in the world in 2017. Her countrymate Hiroko Makino swam a 2:06.92 in prelims to claim the third-fastest time in the world this year.
In the men's 200m fly, Masato Sakai -- the 2016 Olympic silver medalist behind Phelps -- cleaned house with a massive world-leading 1:53.71. Daiya Seto was nipping on his heels, however, posting a swift 1:54.28 -- the second-fastest time in the world this year.
Ohhashi followed up her dominant 400 IM with a strong 200m IM, dropping a quick 2:09.96 -- the second-fastest time in the world this year behind Canada's Sydney Pickrem. On the men's side of things, Kosuke Hagino and Seto were back at it again. This time the roles were reversed, and Hagino took the win with a world-leading 1:56.01. Seto touched for silver with a strong 1:57.58 of his own. Of note, Hagino claimed the silver medal in Rio in this race behind Phelps with a 1:56.61. So for him to be a full 0.6 seconds faster at this point in the year is a sign of good things to come at the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, in July.
The men's 200m breastroke stole the show on Sunday. Yasuhiro Koseki took the win in 2:07.18 over the current world-record holder Ippei Watanabe, who touched in 2:07.60. Watanabe broke the world record back in January with a 2:06.67 -- the first man in history under the 2:07 barrier. Of note, Koseki and Watanabe finished fifth and sixth at the 2016 Olympics in Rio with a 2:07.80 and 2:07.87, respectively.
The splash and dash was also front and center in Nagoya on Sunday. Rikako Ikee dominated the field with a 24.57 in the women's 50m freestyle, narrowly missing her Japanese record of 24.48 set back in February. The men's 50m freestyle saw a tie between Shinri Shioura and Katsumi Nakamura in 21.97. Shioura is the current Japanese record holder with a 21.88 from 2014.
2017 Chinese National Championships
The highlight from Friday at the 2017 Chinese National Championships in Qingdao was certainly Wang Shun and the men's 200m IM. Wang unloaded a massive 1:56.16 to set a new Chinese national record and post the second-fastest time in the world this year behind Hagino. Of note, Hagino still holds the Asian record of 1:55.07 from the Japanese Championships in 2016.
We also saw Sun Yang make an appearance in the men's 100m freestyle to take the win in a very pedestrian 49.27. This meet was certainly missing Ning Zetao -- the Chinese national-record holder with a 47.65 from 2014 -- as the sprint powerhouse was removed from the Chinese National Team for essentially disobeying national team competition rules and signing with sponsors that were in direct conflict with China's NT sponsors. Zetao still has the opportunity to compete at the World Championships this summer, however.
On Saturday night, Xu Jiayu -- who scorched a 51.86 in the 100m backstroke on Wednesday -- posted an impressive 1:54.03 in the men's 200m backstroke, a new Chinese national record. Xu's time is the second-fastest time in the world this year behind Evgeny Rylov's 1:53.81 from Russian Nationals last week.
We also saw a swift 2:08.71 from Tan Haiyang in the men's 200m breaststroke, cracking the 2017 world top 10. His time is a new Chinese national record and junior world record as well.
Sunday featured Li Zhuhao in the men's 100m butterfly. Li, who is the Chinese national-record holder (51.24), dropped a solid 51.63 to claim the victory in Qingdao. Li placed fifth in the final of this event in Rio with a 51.26. He is also the junior world-record holder with his 51.24 from the 2016 Chinese National Championships.
Monday featured a lackluster performance from Sun Yang in the men's 1500m freestyle. Sun, who is the world-record holder with a 14:31 from 2012, posted a 15:04.15 to take the win -- just outside the world top 10 this year. Surprisingly, Sun looked very happy as he sat on the laneline and celebrated post-race.
Xu Jiayu made it a backstroke sweep with his win in the men's 50m backstroke. Xu's time of 24.48 is just off the 24.42 he dropped in semifinals -- a new Chinese national record and fastest time in the world this year.
Xu has a FAST start... Watch him (yellow cap) crush the field -- in a 50 -- before it even gets to the 25m mark. Take notes, kiddos.