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Japan's Swimmers on a Roll
July 28, 2000
Eight New Women's Records
The 50-meter backstroke is not an Olympic event, but Nakamura will be competing in the 100-meter backstroke, another event in which she set a national record at the championships. She finished this race at 1:00.78, only 0.62 seconds short of the world record, a feat that places her at sixth on the world all-time list.
Masami Tanaka, meanwhile, set national records in all seven breast-stroke races in which she competed: the 50-meter time trial and the 100- and 200-meter preliminaries, semifinals, and finals. Tanaka stunned spectators on the second day when she not only topped the national record for the 100-meter breast stroke but did so with the second-fastest time in the world. As though that were not enough, she then broke her own record in every event she competed in thereafter. Finishing the 200-meter final within 0.48 seconds of the world record was an added glory.
A World Seasonal Best
Hagiwara began taking swimming lessons in the second grade after nearly drowning in the ocean. Since June 1999, when she first set her sights on the Sydney Olympics, Hagiwara has trimmed her time by as much as three seconds. Now she aims for the world record and a gold medal. "Breaking the national record is only the first step," she says.
There were several men, too, who broke national records during the championships, but the number of record-setting women was exceptional, and many of their times ranked among the world's best. Japan's team is so outstanding that one of its swimmers says, "I feel less pressured about winning competitions abroad than winning the nationals."
As the days before the Sydney Olympics close in, expectations are on the rise for the new records and medals that will hopefully be reaped by Japan's swimmers.
Copyright (c) 2000 Japan Information Network. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.