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Hagino outduels Irie for 100-meter backstroke national title

Kosuke Hagino defeated London Olympic bronze medalist Ryosuke Irie in the men’s 100 meters backstroke on Friday to capture his third title at the national swimming championships, a qualifier for this summer’s world championships in Barcelona.

The 18-year-old Hagino surpassed the qualifying standard with a time of 53.10 seconds to win his first 100 back national title, .23 ahead of Irie, who also qualified for Barcelona.

Hagino also won the 200 freestyle in 1:46.28 ahead of Takeshi Matsuda, a day after banging out a new national record in the men’s 400-meter individual medley at Daiei Probis Phoenix Pool.

Hagino stunned the swimming world last summer when he finished behind gold medalist American Ryan Lochte and Brazilian runnerup Thiago Pereira, beating out Michael Phelps for the 400 medley bronze as the American swimming legend placed fourth.

“I feel relieved as I set my personal best and I had a good race,” he said after winning the backstroke race.

On the women’s side, Aya Terakawa came within a whisker of the national record she set in taking the London Olympic bronze medal, coming home in 58.84 in the 100 backstroke.

“I want not only to be the top in Japan, but also to be one of the top swimmers in the world and beat them. I will train hard again,” said Terakawa, who missed the national record by only one hundredth of a second.

She will also be heading for Spain along with 18-year-old Miyu Otsuka, who won the 400 individual medley in 4:37.53. Satomi Suzuki won the women’s 50 breaststroke in 31.57.

The men’s 50 breaststroke title went to Hiromasa Sakimoto, thanks to a time of 27.58. Two-time Olympic 100 and 200 double gold medalist Kosuke Kitajima was fifth.