Japan's Takeshi Matsuda and Kosuke Hagino shot to the helm of the early 2013 world rankings with solid victories in their respective events at the NSW State titles Down Under today.
Olympic medallist Matsuda, 28, clocked 1:56.68 for a dominant victory in the 200m butterfly after a heats effort of 1:58.49. Mitchell Pratt, 17, got some good experience on his way to a 1:58.47 second-place, with Yuta Kimura third in 1:58.90. A 1:57.54 from Joe Roebuck at the British Gas International last week had led the way on the first-quarter world rankings.
Hagino took the 400m free in 3:46.89 after overhauling David McKeon, second in 3:47.14, on the last 50m of a tight tussle. Close by were Jordan Harrison and Thomas Fraser-Holmes, on 3:48.43 and 3:48.56 respectively.
James Magnussen, Olympic silver medallist, won the 100m free in 48.61 (off 23.37), after a 48.90 in heats. Cameron McEvoy, 18, took second in 49.31, with Kenneth To third in 49.44 just ahead of Tommaso D'Orsogna, on 49.58. "It's good to be back in the pool and blow out some cobwebs and get back what I do best,'' said Magnussen after his race. On 48.38 in January, Magnussen is second on the season rankings behind a 48.11 blast in Marseilles this month from the man who pipped him by 0.01sec for Olympic gold last year, Nathan Adrian (USA).
Alicia Coutts took the 100m free in 54.73 ahead of 16-year-old Ami Matsuo, on 54.95, with Emma McKeon and Yolane Kukla both on 55.11. Coutts returned to the fray later on for a 26.36 win in the 50m 'fly ahead of Brittany Elmslie, 26.72, and Yuka Kato, 26.81, and then took on the 100m breaststroke. Sally Foster, after a 1:08.55 in heats, took the final in 1:08.16, with Sam Marshall closest on 1:08.82 and Coutts, medley in mind, on 1:09.08 for third.
Meagan Nay edged out Belinda Hocking in their latest 200m backstroke battle, 2:08.41 to 2:08.55, those two efforts just shy of the season bests of Nay (2:08.39) and Olympic champion Missy Franklin (USA), at the top of the heap so far on a spectacular January blast in 2:07.31.
In other action, the 50m backstroke for men saw Daniel Arnamart tip Ryosuke Irie (JPN) 25.17 to 25.42, Ben Treffers third in 25.47; Sam Hamill took the 400m medley in 4:44.31 and Katie Goldman took the 800m free in 8:31.30 ahead of Jess Ashwood, on 8:32.60.
The session finished with Japan, as national teams, dominating the relays over Aussie club quartets that would take top billing in any world club championships. Hagino, world 200m breaststroke record holder Akihiro Yamaguchi, Keita Sunama and Matsuda took the 4x100m medley in a swift 3:37.66 (53.81, 1:00.27, 53.85 and 49.73.
The women's medley relay saw Japan clock 4:01.18 for an easy win for Aya Terakawa, Miku Kanasashi, Kato and Haruka Ueda (59.18, 1:08.96, 58.60, 54.44). In their third-placed team, Ellen Gandy, in the process of switching nations from Britain to Australia, raced with her Nunawading teammates and put in a 58.78 split on butterfly.