• Kyodo

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Record-breaking swimmer Ryosuke Irie fired a warning shot to his rivals Wednesday, insisting there is plenty left in the tank after obliterating the men’s 200-meter backstroke world record in Australia this past weekend.

Irie posted a time of 1 minute, 52.86 seconds at Australian Institute of Sports on Sunday, slicing 1.08 seconds off the previous world mark of 1:53.94 set by American Ryan Lochte at last year’s Beijing Olympics.

But speaking to reporters at Osaka airport after arriving back in Japan, Irie said, “I’m surprised at posting that time. I swam with the intention of setting a new world record (but) I don’t think this record is my limit.”

Irie, who spearheads Japan’s squad for this summer’s world championships in Rome, had already announced himself as a major threat with a near world-record swim in the men’s 200 backstroke at the national championships last month.

His world record-breaking swim in Canberra in the “Duel in the Pool” against the Australians came a day after he got within 0.02 second of American Aaron Piersol’s world record of 52.54 in the 100 backstroke.

The 19-year-old student recognizes he will be under pressure to medal in Rome in July but is relishing the challenge of raising the bar again.

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