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Kitajima completes breaststroke sweep

Kyodo News

Kosuke Kitajima completed a sweep of the men’s three breaststroke events at the short-course national championships Sunday by winning the 50 and 200 meters with Japanese record times.

The two-time double Olympic champion stopped the clock at 2 minutes, 2.95 seconds in the 200, the last race of the two-day event in the 25-meter pool at Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center.

Naoya Tomita finished a distant second in 2:04.27. Yuta Suenaga touched third in 2:04.60.

Kitajima’s time eclipsed the mark of 2:03.12 set by Tomita only two months ago at the short-course world championships in Dubai.

Kitajima broke national records in the three events in his first appearance since 2008 in the short-course Tokyo meet as part of his preparations for the national championships from April 5-10.

The results of the national championships will decide the Japanese team for the world championships in Shanghai in July.

“I think I swam pretty well for this time of season,” Kitajima said. “My body got sharper each race. The level of breaststroke competition is high in Japan, so performing like this gives me a confidence boost.”

Kitajima won the 50 meters in 26.68 earlier Sunday. He took the 100 crown in 57.34 on Saturday.

“Yet this was just a tuneup event for the coming events in the regular 50-meter pool. I’ll go back to the U.S. and build up some more before the national championships in April,” Kitajima said.

The 28-year-old has moved his training base to southern California.

Junya Koga, the men’s 100-meter backstroke winner at the 2009 world championships in Rome, covered the distance in 50.66 for a 50-100 double.

Masafumi Yamaguchi (52.04) and Kazuki Watanabe (52.08) rounded out the podium in the event.

Olympic and world 200 butterfly bronze medalist Takeshi Matsuda won the men’s 400 freestyle in 3:40.34.