IRVINE, Calif. – Kosuke Kitajima issued pretenders to his Olympic throne a fresh warning as he marked his return to the spotlight with a beaming double at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships.
Kitajima did not disappoint in his first major international event since successfully defending his 100- and 200-meter breaststroke titles in Beijing two years ago, but the 27-year-old admitted Sunday that his exertions had left him sapped.
“The fatigue has really kicked in,” Kitajima told reporters at the Japanese team’s camp in Irvine, Calif. “I think that’s because I worked my body the way I should have. This meet has given something to build on for the next event.”
Kitajima came back with a bang and posted the world’s fastest time this season to top the 100 heats in 59.04 seconds before going on to win the final in 59.35 on Thursday.
He then powered to victory in the 200 on Saturday in 2:08.36, also the fastest world mark this term, beating Australia’s Brenton Rickard by a margin of 1.61.
The victories assured Kitajima berths in both disciplines at the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, in November.
“All I was thinking about was squeezing every last drop out at the Pan Pacs,” said Kitajima. “I’m thinking about what kind of form I can head to (the Asian Games) in.”
Kitajima has been training at the University of Southern California since last year as he aims for a three-peat at the London Olympics in 2012.
He did not win any of the three breaststroke events at the Japan championships in April, but turned in strong performances in the three-legged European Grand Prix series two months later.
In Canet, France, he produced a 2:10.73 victory in the 200 — his then personal best since making his competitive comeback last November.
Junya Koga, meanwhile, appeared satisfied with his performance after adding the 100-meter backstroke silver to the gold he won in the 50.
“I feel a strong sense of achievement,” said Koga, the 2009 world champion in the 100 backstroke. “Beating (American world record holder Aaron) Peirsol in the first leg of the medley relay is something to treasure.”