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Teenage swimmer Hagino named to world championships squad for first time

Kyodo

Record-breaking swimmer Kosuke Hagino was among 31 named to the Japan national team for this summer’s world championships in Barcelona on Monday.

The 18-year-old Hagino, who held off Michael Phelps for a bronze in the 400-meter individual medley at last year’s London Olympics, won an unprecedented five titles at last week’s national championships.

Hagino made the team for the first time and could compete in as many as eight events during the July 19 to Aug. 4 worlds.

“I want to win a gold (in the 400 IM),” he said.

Hagino is joined by Toyo University teammate Akihiro Yamaguchi, the world record-holder in the men’s 200 breaststroke, as well as fellow London medalists Ryosuke Irie in the backstroke and Aya Terakawa and Satomi Suzuki in the women’s backstroke and breaststroke, respectively.

Former two-time double Olympic champion Kosuke Kitajima won the 100 breast at the nationals, but did not meet the qualifying standards for the worlds.

The 30-year-old Kitajima, though, was picked for the medley relay, in which he won a silver at London.

Japan won three silver and eight bronze medals at last summer’s Games, the largest medal haul in the postwar era. Head coach Norimasa Hirai wants his squad to match that tally in Spain — but with a few golds thrown into the mix.

“Our goal is to win as many medals as we did at the Olympics, and to win a gold this time,” Hirai said.