Kitajima has inspiration for meet

HAMAMATSU (Kyodo) Kosuke Kitajima will swim not only to sew up his place on this summer’s world championships team but also for the victims of March 11 this weekend.

The double Olympic champion will compete in a qualifying meet for the July 16 to 31 worlds in Shanghai starting Saturday, an event that replaces the national championships which were canceled due to last month’s earthquake and tsunami.

Kitajima came up empty-handed at the nationals a year ago, but this year, is coming off record-breaking performances at the short-course championships in February.

“It’s different from last year,” Kitajima, who had the world’s fastest times in the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke last season, said Friday. “I think I can swim a good race, good enough to inspire the victims hopefully.”

Backstroke star and national record-holder Shunsuke Irie will go toe-to-toe with Junya Koga, who will look to defend his world title in the 100 at Shanghai.