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SWC 2011, Tokyo day 1: Japan’s Matsuda scares butterfly world record

Swimming World Cup

TOKYO, Japan - Japan’s Takeshi Matsuda turned it on for the large crowd on the opening day of the seventh and final FINA/Arena Swimming World Cup meet at the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Centre today. Matsuda gave Brazilian Kaio Almeida’s 200m Butterfly world record a big nudge with a spectacular first leg. He was under world record split by 1.22 at the 100m but lost time in the next 50m, going on to 1:49.50 as against Almeida’s 1:49.11 set in Stockholm, in 2009.

The leading male swimmer of the series, South Africa’s Chad Le Clos finished fast for 1:51.00 and Kazuya Kaneda (JPN) was third in 1:51.05. An excited Matsuda said straight after the race that he wanted to take the record tonight: “I knew I had a chance to break it and even though I didn’t, I am so happy. I knew the record was there to break so I gave it my best with a strong start. I really wanted to take the record in this final.” The three best swims of the night came from the blockbuster Butterfly race — Matsuda scored 989; Le Clos 949 points and Kaneda with 948.

Swedish star These Alshammar was the best female performer of the night and all but sewed up her 2011 championship win with a 55.95 swim in the 100m Butterfly for her 14th gold medal. She earned 952 points for the swim and is well clear of second-placed USA’s Missy Franklin, who is not in Japan. Korea’s Choi Hye Ra scored the second best points win of the evening with a 959 in the 200m IM. Third best was Haruka Ueda (JPN), who scored 932 in the 200m Freestyle.

Aussie superstar Ian Thorpe made huge inroads to his 100m Freestyle time, trimming 0.76 seconds off his Beijing time of  50.21 from Tuesday. Thorpe stopped the clock at 49.45, which was 12th fastest, three positions better than Beijing, a time he was happy with, he said. He did not take part in the 100m IM, stating that it was now time to concentrate on freestyle. However, he will race the 100m Butterfly on the final day of the 2011 series.

The Tokyo leg has 601 competitors — 100 of whom are non-Japanese — from 22 nations.

First-night race summary:

Women's 800m Freestyle: China’s Ren Luomeng became the seventh different winner of this event in 2011, making it two in a row after Zhou Lili won in Beijing. Ren had a two-second lead at the halfway point and maintained the margin for a few laps until stretching it to four seconds by 750m, finishing in 8:22.59. Emu Higuchi (JPN, 8:24.05) headed Asami Chida (JPN, 8:24.29) for the silver.
 Men's 100m Freestyle: Australia’s Kyle Richardson repeated his Beijing effort with victory, coming from behind to mow down Olympic champion Alain Bernard (FRA) into fourth. Richardson touched in 47.31. Kento Ito (JPN) was with Richardson all the way in Bernard’s wake but covered the Aussie to claim second in 47.34. Chad Le Clos (RSA) picked up a bronze, denied his 22nd gold medal of the series. Le Clos was just 0.01 behind Richardson in Beijing but was 0.17 behind tonight in 47.48.

Women's 200m Freestyle:  Haruka Ueda (JPN) led from start to finish, from countrywoman Hanae Itou. Ueda finished in 1:53.77 from Itou in 1:54.58 with Beijing winner Blair Evans (AUS) third in 1:55.19. Ueda was nearly three seconds faster than the morning heats while Evans, also the 400m winner in Beijing, was almost a second slower than in Beijing.

Men's 50m Breaststroke: Christian Sprenger's 50m breaststroke win was an Australian record, touching in 26.54, a tenth of a second quicker than his Beijing winning time and faster than his winning time in Singapore. Ryo Tateishi (JPN, 26.66) out-touched Yuuki Okajima (JPN, 26.90) while Japanese star Kosuke Kitajima had to settle for fifth from lane two.

Women's 100m Breaststroke: Korean Kim Hye Jin proved too powerful for Aussie favourite Leiston Pickett with a late burst down the final lap. She crashed the wall in 1:05.37 from lane three. Pickett was slow off the blocks and turned in the bunch at 25m but had the lead at 50m and 75m. By the wall, she had a personal best of 1:05.41, bettering Beijing’s effort, but she had to settle for silver. Kanako Watanabe (JPN), who favours and dominates the 200m, touched in 1:05.69 for bronze from lane four.
Men's 400m Individual Medley: Daiya Seto (JPN) took control of this race from the start with Kousuke Hagino (JPN) and Markus Rogan (AUT) close behind. Seto had a two-second lead over the following pair but it was Hagino who improved as the race went on. Seto swam the second fastest swim of the year and a Japanese record of 4:02.44. Hagino, who always looked to have the edge over Rogan, swam the fastest freestyle leg of the top three and finished second in 4:03.59. Rogan tired over the final lap for third in 4:06.84. Missing from the event was Chad Le Clos, who has won this event four times.
 Women's 100m Butterfly: Therese Alshammar (SWE)  lifted her 14th gold medal of the series with a blistering first half that saw her outlast Japan’s Yuka Katou. Alshammar was nearly a second ahead at the 50m but Katou produced a national record to finish in 56.37, behind Alshammar’s 55.95. Australian Lisbeth Trickett, the 2008 Beijing Olympic champion, qualified her comeback with a bronze-medal performance in 58.23. It was the Swede’s fourth consecutive gold medal in the event and fifth for the series.
 Men's 100m Backstroke: Junya Koga (JPN) won all the way from lane seven. He had a handsome lead at the halfway point and kept on surging to a 51.21 finish, 1.64 faster than his morning swim. Takeshi Kawamoto (JPN) was pulled along by Koga, swimming in lane six, finishing second in 51.89 from pre-race favourite and fastest qualifier Kazuki Watanabe (JPN) in 51.90.
 Women's 50m Backstroke: Zhao Jing (CHN) had to settle for second spot in the event she won in Beijing earlier in the week. The World Cup record holder from two years ago in Stockholm could not stop the surge of Japan’s Aya Terakawa in lane three, finishing in 26.44. Australian Rachel Goh claimed bronze in 26.64, just .04 outside her series-best time from Beijing.

Men's 200m Butterfly: Takeshi Matsuda (JPN) gave Brazilian Kaio Almeida’s world record a nudge with a spectacular first leg. He was under world record split by 1.22 at the 100m but lost time in the next 50m, going on to 1:49.50 as against Almeida’s 1:49.11, set in Stockholm in 2009. Chad Le Clos (RSA) finished fast for 1:51.00 and Kazuya Kaneda (JPN) was third in 1:51.05. Matsuda’s time was, naturally, a national record.

Women's 200m Individual Medley: Korea's Choi Hye Ra repeated her effort of Beijing with a 2:07.23 swim, the second fastest of the year. Choi swam 2:07.72 in Beijing. Tomoyo Fukuda (JPN) claimed silver in 2:09.00 and Emu Higuchi (JPN) took bronze in 2:09.87.

Men's 400m Freestyle: Robert Hurley (AUS) left it until the last 75m to take the lead of the 400m from Japan’s Syogo Hihar. He turned equal but had a half body lead and then by the final wall was a body length in front, finishing in 3:42.44. Hihara touched in 3:43.55 and Youhei Takiguchi (JPON) took bronze in 3:44.42. Hurley’s time was a relaxed half second slower than Beijing.

Women's 50m Freestyle: Cate Campbell (AUS) headed team-mate Olivia Halicek in the splash over two laps with World Cup record holder Therese Alshammar (SWE) third. Campbell led easily at the turn and finished in 23.93. Halicek (24.17) and Alshammar (24.30) were ahead of comeback star Lisbeth Trickett (AUS), who was fourth in 24.91. The winning time was faster than Australian newcomer Emma McKeon’s winning time of 24.15 in Beijing. Olympian Alshammar swam 24.16 in Beijing for silver.

Men's 200m Breaststroke: Ryo Tateishi (JPN) had all the stats with a from-the-front win that saw the 100m split just 0.29 off Hungarian Daniel Gyurta’s world record. Tateishi touched in 2:03.49, well shy of Gyurta’s 2:00.67. Naoya Tomita (JPN) closed quickly in the dying stages for silver in 2:04.51, a slither ahead of German Marco Koch in 2:04.52. Koch swam 0.21 faster than Beijing, where he won the gold. Tateishi was 1.23 down on the world mark after three strokes.

Men's 100m Individual Medley: Takurou Fujii (JPN) used his superior breaststroke to surge into the lead and go away with the race, finishing in 52.78, the sixth fastest time of the year. Fujii held off a withering burst from Chad Le Clos (RSA) in the final metres as Le Clos overtook lane one’s Masafumi Yamaguchi (JPN), who was timed at 53.55. Yamaguchi was the early front-runner but would have been happy with silver.

Women's 200m Backstroke: New Zealander Melissa Ingram took the lead at the 75m mark and never relinquished it to finish in 2:03.39 from lane seven. She won in a slightly faster time in Beijing (2:03.00) but had the race from Japan’s Sayaka Akase, who made her move at the 100m mark from Eri Tabei (JPN). Akase, who swam 2:04.67, repulsed a late challenge from Marie Kamimura (JPN), who hit the wall in 2:05.12.

Men's 50m Butterfly: It was a Japanese shut-out in the final race of the evening with Ryo Takayasu claiming gold in 22.68, one of the faster swims of the series. Hiroki Katou touched in 22.97 from lane three and Kouhei Kawamoto, the second fastest qualifier, was third in 23.02.