• Kyodo News


Shiho Sakai set a new short-course world record in the women’s 100-meter backstroke Sunday, claiming her first title on the final day of the 2009 Short Course National Swimming Championships.

Sakai took full advantage of her trademark submarine dolphin kicking technique, touching the wall in 56.15 seconds to shave 0.36 off the mark established by American Natalie Coughlin in November 2007.

The Fukuoka high school student also smashed her own short-course Japanese record of 56.70.

“Of course, I set out to set a new world record. I’m very surprised that I did and I’m very, very happy about it,” Sakai told reporters at Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center.

“I tried to swim as aggressively as possible in the first half and tried to be patient in the latter. I did as I planned.

“This is my last race as a high school student and I really wanted to set my personal best to finish with.”

It was the first time a short-course world record was broken by a Japanese swimmer since Reiko Nakamura did so in the women’s 200-meter backstroke. Yuko Nakanishi accomplished the feat in the women’s 200-meter butterfly at this same meet last year.

Ryo Tateishi followed a record-breaking performance from a day earlier, slashing 1.16 seconds off double Olympic champion Kosuke Kitajima’s national record to win his first men’s 200-meter breaststroke title in 2:03.80. He rewrote Kitajima’s mark in the 100-meter breaststroke on Saturday.

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