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Hagino's Gauntlet To The Specialists

Apr 12, 2013  - Craig Lord

The fierce heats test at Japan nationals in Niigata continued apace on day 2 of 4 this morning, Kosuke Hagino, the 400m medley champion on an Asian record of 4:07 yesterday, setting the pace for the specialists in the 200m free and 100m backstroke.

It took 1:49.60 to make the 200m free final, Hagino at the helm in 1:47.93, a personal best inside the 18-year-old's 1:48.52 of a year ago. Takeshi Matsuda shadowed him this morning on 1:48.35 as one of four men inside 1:49 before a joint fifth place in 1:49.07. The 4x200m free berths at Barcelona world titles await.

Hagino, Olympic bronze medallist in the 400IM at London 2012, was back soon after for a 54.07 in the 100m back heats on his mission to put together the pieces of a puzzle he will need to take on Ryan Lochte and Co in the hunt for gold in the Catalan capital this summer.

Hagino has a good record on backstroke, his 57.12 of last season a reflection of his focus on medley, his personal best of 53.58 in Australia in January this year inside the 54.83 standard he set in 2011.

Either side of him in the final will be Takeshi Kawamoto, 54.44, and Ryosuke Irie, 54.56, while last man in the final needed a 54.96. A sobering domestic pace and depth.

In the 50m breaststroke, six men cracked 28sec, Yuki Okajima on 27.57 at the helm, 0.01sec up on Hiromasa Sakimoto, with Kosuke Kitajima in the mix on 27.97 in fifth.