Yesterday, the Japanese national para-swimming championships concluded in Tokyo. It was open to all swimmers with physical, intellectual, vision and hearing impairments, with results based on specific classifications of S1 to S15. The competition also included a training session for coaches and others on anti-doping issues in swimming.
In competitive races with three or more swimmers in a class, Miki Kamada won the S8 100 meter women’s freestyle race with a time of 01:21:52. Mei Ichinose won the S9 race. Sachi Takagi won the S14 race, the classification for swimmers with intellectual disabilities. On the men’s side, Kyosuke Oyama won the S6 race in a field eight deep. His time of 01:17:14 was sixteen seconds faster than second place Kotaro Togashi. Oyama entered the race as reigning Paralympic men’s 50 meter butterfly silver medalist, a race not on the program at the national championships. Shogo Nishio won the S7 class. Takuro Yamada took home gold in the S9 class. Uchu Tomita won the S12 class. Eigo Deguchi won the S14 class with a time of 00:56:29, setting an event record in the process. Shun Yamamoto won the S15 100 meter men’s freestyle race, the classification for people with hearing impairments.
In the 200 meter freestyle race, Momoko Honda won gold in the S14 women’s race. On the men’s S14 side, Eigo Deguchi finished first. It was Deguchi’s second gold medal of the competition in a competitive race.
In the 100 meter women’s backstroke, Mei Ichinose won gold in the S9 race. It was her second gold in a competitive race. Chikako Ono finished first in the S11 women’s race. Tamao Chihara finished first in the S14 race, with a time of 01:18:45, well off world record time of 01:05.67 set by Bethany Firth last year. On the men’s side, Daisuke Ejima won the S7 race while Seiga Yasuda won the S9 race. Both swimmers were far off world record times. Takuya Tsugawa won the S14 race.
In the 100 meter breaststroke, Aki Kajihara won the SB8 women’s class, while Remi Watanabe won the SB14 class. On the men’s side, Jumpei Kimura won the SB6 class race, Tomotaro Nakamura won the SB7 race, Chikara Ara won the SB8 race, and Yasuhiro Tanaka won the SB14 race. Yasuhiro was a 2012 Paralympic gold medalist in this event for Japan. Nakamura was a silver medalist in this event for Japan at the London Games.
Keiichi Kimura, Japan’s bronze medalist in the men’s 100 metre butterfly, participated in and won the men’s S11 100 meter freestyle event in a field that was only two deep. His time of 01:01:37 was much faster than Kenji Shibata’s time of 01:23:62. Both were well off world record time of 00:56.67 set by John Morgan in 1986. He also finished first in the 100 meter breaststroke race in a field that was also only two deep.
Double 2012 Paralympic bronze medalist Takayuki Suzuki also competed in the competition, going uncontested in the 100 meter S5 freestyle race where he had a time of 00:51:78, way off the world record time of 00:34.99 set by Daniel Dias in 2012. He also swam uncontested in the 50 meter backstroke, where he had a time of 01:25:20, well off the world record time also set by Dias in 2012 of 01:08.39. Current world record holder in the 50 meter breaststroke, he did not compete in the event at the Japanese national championships.
The 2016 Paralympic qualifying period for swimmers officially starts on October 14 and runs through January 31, 2016 for swimmers who did not earn direct qualification through a top two finish at the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships. Japan won seven medals in swimming, almost half their total haul of sixteen, at the 2012 Summer Paralympics.