Japan reaches swimming medley relay finals

Kyodo

Two-time double Olympic breaststroke champion Kosuke Kitajima helped Japan reach the men’s 4×100-meter medley relay final at the London Games on Friday in what could be his last Olympics, while the Japanese women’s team also went through to the 4×100 medley relay final.

The Japanese team of Ryosuke Irie, Kitajima, Takeshi Matsuda and Takuro Fujii placed second to the United States in its heat and third overall with a time of 3 minutes, 33.64 second in the preliminary round.

The United States, resting Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte for Saturday’s final, topped the 16-team field in 3:32.65. Host Britain touched second in 3:33.44.

The United States has won the event at the past seven Olympics and 12 times in 13 games.

The 29-year-old Kitajima finished out of the medals in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke earlier in the London swimming program.

“I definitely want to swim faster (in the final),” said Kitajima, a member of the bronze-winning 4×100 medley relay teams at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. “We are gunning for a medal. We all know we have a chance.”

In the women’s 4×100 medley relay heats, Japan posted the second-fastest time of 3:57.87 to qualify for the final. Australia clocked the fastest time of 3:55.42 and Denmark was third in 3:58.35.

Yayoi Matsumoto, the only Japanese who swam in an individual event Friday, failed to qualify for the women’s 50-meter freestyle semifinals with a 35th-place finish in 25.73 seconds in the heats.