SWC 2014: Tokyo Day 1: Hosszu and Le Clos consolidate their lead; Meilutyte loses in the 100m breaststroke

Swimming World Cup

For the fifth consecutive year the “Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Centre” is hosting a FINA World Cup meet, this time for the penultimate leg of the seven-meet series. Some of the world’s best swimmers have gathered here, including the World Cup’s leaders Katinka Hosszu, of Hungary, and Chad Le Clos, of South Africa. Moreover, the elite of the Japanese Swimming Federation led by Daichi Suzuki, the unforgettable winner of the 100m backstroke at the 1988 Seoul’s Olympics, swimming under water for most of the distance, is also competing in Tokyo. Among the best Japanese are the versatile Kosuke Hagino and Daiya Seto, the backstroker Irie and the breaststroker Kanako Watanabe.

Hosszu is going into this meet with 39 gold medals won in the previous five legs of the series, plus three silver and three bronze medals. In addition she has set five world records, all of them in the medley events: twice in the 100 and 200 metres and one in the 400 metres.

Katinka Hosszu (HUN)

The only world record among the men was set by Hosszu’s compatriot Daniel Gyurta on the 200m breaststroke. All six worlds records were set at the first two legs, either Doha or Dubai: perhaps a sign that swimmers were benefitting from the good form displayed at the European Championships, which had concluded a few days earlier.

Le Clos has won so far 21 gold medals. In the medal count Dutch Inge Dekker is second among the women with 20 medals, 19 gold and one silver.

For the first time, a new technological device, an electronic lap counter, developed by Omega Timing, placed on the floor at the centre of each lane, at the turning end of the swimming pool is being tested in the middle distance events – 800m and 1500m freestyle - in view of its official utilization already from the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) coming up in December in Doha (Qatar).

It will make it easier for the swimmer to read the numbers. Simultaneously on the scoreboard for each lane appears the “laps to go” words and the corresponding number. From the application of this new device all will benefit: swimmers, judges and public. The swimmers here are enthusiastic.

German swimmer Franziska Hentke, after swimming the 800m heat, commented: “It’s fantastic. You can see the numbers very clearly, also from a few metres before the turn. You don’t have to turn your head anymore and therefore you can fully keep your concentration”.

Peter Huerzeler, Senior member of the Omega Timing Board, anticipates that the device is susceptible of further developments which could prompt an advancement in training systems and in swimmers performances, thanks to the displaying of the lap time at each turn, and others.

In each day, 18 events - heats at 9am, finals at 6pm - are contested: 17 individual plus one mixed relay.

Day 1 - Event by Event Report

W 800m Freestyle. American Elizabeth Beisel took an early lead but at half race the two traditional rivals – Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu and Spain’s Mireia Belmonte - were already fighting head to head, a duel that Belmonte resolved in her favour in the last lap. The Spanish won in a time of 8:08.57 while the Hungarian was second in 8:09.17, with Beisel a distant third in 8:19.32. After this win the count of gold in this race is even: three victories for Belmonte and three for Hosszu. For Mireia it was the 23rd medal of the World Cup series, the 8th gold; for Katinka, the 50th medal in the circuit, the 4th silver. The fastest time was scored by Belmonte in Dubai, with 8:04.88. Tonight she swam the second best winning time of the series.

M 400m IM. Japan’s Daiya Seto crushed his major opponent, Australia’s Thomas Fraser-Holmes, swimming in perfect style all four strokes and increasing gradually the edge, keeping the rival at bay in a winning time of 3:59.91. Fraser-Homes placed second in 4:04.03, with Hungary’s Gergely Gyurta third with 4:06.10. For the Japanese this was the second victory in this race, after the one he got in Beijing. The Australian had won the race in all the four previous meets, setting the best time of the circuit in Dubai, with 3:58.69.

Daiya Seto (JPN)

M 100m Freestyle. Japan’s Katsumi Nakamura was the unexpected winner of the most classical race: in 47.30 he touched ahead of Russia’s Sergey Fesikov by a mere one hundredth of a second (47.31). Germany Steffen Deibler was third in 47.35. Then two more Japanese, Kenta Ito, 47.53, and Kosuke Hagino, 47.57. The winner scored the slowest winning time of the circuit in this race, which previously had only one winner, Chad Le Clos (five gold medals in a row).

W 200m Freestyle. At half race Hosszu was just 1/100th up the world record split. Then she won her 40th gold medal in 1:52.45, a clear cut win over Australian Emma McKeon, 1:53.15. USA’s Katherine Drabot was third in 1:54.45.

M 50m Breaststroke. South African veteran Roland Schoeman made it again in 26.02, the best time in this series, ahead of Daniel Gyurta, 26.60 (HUN) and Ryouta Nomura (JPN), 26.84. Schoeman had won this event three times earlier in the series.

W 100m Breaststroke. Fast start for Alia Atkinson. The Jamaican went swiftly in the lead, turned in first in 29.69 and won in 1:02.86, a great time, just half a second shy of the world record, the fastest in this series. Ruta Meilutyte, of Lithuania, had to metabolize an unexpected and burning defeat in 1:03.72. USA Catherine Meili was third in 1:05.01 with Australia’s Sally Hunter fourth in 1:05.67. Atkinson had won four previous races out of five (in Moscow the gold medal went to Japan’s Rye Kaneto).

W 100m Butterfly. Sixth straight victory for Dutch Inge Dekker in 56.11, with Katinka Hosszu in second in 56.94 and USA’s Felicia’ Lee third in 57.04. For Dekker this was the 20th gold medal in this circuit.

M 100m Backstroke. USA’s Eugene Godsoe managed to keep at bay his Japanese rival Ryosuke Irie touching first in 50.49. Irie, who had a slow start, came up strongly in the final stage of the race and was second in 50.53, 0.04 behind. Australia’s Mitchell Larkin was third in 50.59 and Spain’s Miguel Ortiz fourth in 50.86.

W 50m Backstroke. UK’s Francesca Halsall won the race from lane 1 in 26.42, 0.05 ahead of USA’s Felicia Lee, 26.47: Brazil’s Etienne Medeiros was third in 26.56. Hosszu, who had won three gold in this race, setting the best time in Dubai with 26.10, was sixth with 26.90, this time missing the podium.

M 200m Butterfly. What a race! The hot duel between the Olympic champion Chad Le Clos (RSA) and Japan’s Daiya Seto was the best thing of the meet so far. They swam head to head till the last stroke, with the South African gaining victory in 1:49.20, the best winning time this year, and Seto touching in second place, in 1:49.68. Le Clos had won this race in the previous two meets, in the same time, 1:49.73.

W 200m IM. Hosszu’s victory was never in doubt. She necked the her 41st gold medal, and the 6th consecutive win in this race, in 2:05.18, a time much slower than her world record  of 2:02.13 set in Dubai: a sign of the fatigue she is resenting for incredibly swimming so many races, so fast. USA’s Caitlin Leverenz was second in 2:06.15 and UK’s Sjobhan-Marie O’Connor third in 2:07.21.

M 400m Freestyle. South Africa’s Myles Brown dominated the race in 3:37.96, with UK’s James Guy second in 3:40.82 and Thomas Fraser-Holmes third 3:41.30. David McKeon, also of Australia, was fourth in 3:41.48. Germany’s Paul Biedermann was a distant sixth, in a slow 3:42.26. Fraser-Holmes had won the first four meets. The best time was set by China’s Yang Sun in the Beijing’s meet, in 3:37.10.

W 50m Freestyle. Second gold medal of the day for Francesca Halsall (GBR) in 23.80, over Inge Dekker (NED), 23.89. For the third place Australia’s Marieke D’Cruz Guehrer touched ahead of Japan’s Miki Uchida by 0.01 of a second.

M 200m Breaststroke. In an all Japanese final, except for his presence, Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta, who had won all previous meeting and had set the world record in Dubai (2:00.48), grabbed his inevitable sixth gold medal in this race with the time of 2:02.12. The Hungarian had a fast start, turning at the 50 metre mark 0.22 secs under his world record split but gradually he slowed down. Koseki Yasuhiro was second in 2:03.38 while Ippei Watanabe was third in 2:04.46.

M 100m IM. Japan’s number one Kosuke Hagino won in 52.03. His compatriot Fujimori Hiromasa and Russia’s Sergei Fesikov tied for the silver medal in 52.20.

W 200m Backstroke. Appealing to her last drops of energy stainless Katinka Hosszu won in 2:01.97, 0.90 seconds ahead of Australia’s Madison Wilson. Sixth victory in a row in this race and gold medal #42 in the circuit for the unbelievable Hungarian “Iron Lady”.

Chad Le Clos (RSA)

M 50m Butterfly. Two titans from South Africa, Chad Le Clos and Roland Schoeman claimed gold and silver, respectively in 22.20 and 22.66. Germany’s Steffen Deibler was third in 22.72 with Kouhei Kawamoto, of Japan’s, fourth in 22.84. For Le Clos this was the sixth straight victory in this race and the second gold medal of the day, the 23rd in the series.

Mixed 4x50m Medley. Four Japanese clubs took the first four places, with the first two relays separated by just one hundredth. The relays of the United States and Russia were respectively fifth and sixth. On the podium Mikihouse (1:41.51), Toyo University (1:40.52) and Konami (1:42.31).