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Hagiwara triumphs in 50m freestyle

Kyodo

Comeback kid Tomoko Hagiwara continued her resurgence in the pool as the Sydney Olympian won the women’s 50-meter freestyle in a Japan record at the national short-course championships Saturday.

Two months ahead of the Japanese qualifiers for London, Hagiwara, who turns 32 in April, broke the old mark by 0.05 during the preliminaries, touching the wall in 24.84 seconds before nearly rewriting it in the final to win in 24.90.

“I surprised myself, to be perfectly honest,” Hagiwara said. “I’ve been training really well since the start of the month, but I’m a challenger here. I’ve got nothing to lose.”

Hagiwara, who came in fourth in the 200 backstroke and the 200 individual medley at the 2000 Summer Games, retired once after failing to make the Athens Olympic team.

Four other national records were broken on the first day of the meet at Tatsumi International Swimming Center.

Ryo Tateishi shaved 0.14 off the mark of two-time double Olympic champion Kosuke Kitajima in the men’s 100 breaststroke, winning in 57.20, while Shunsuke Kuzuhara clocked 1:43.83 seconds in the 200 free for the victory. Miho Takahashi took more than 2 seconds off the women’s 400 IM record, winning in 4:27.65, and Satomi Suzuki captured the women’s 100 breaststroke in 1:04.11.