• Kyodo News


Amid a debate raging over rules about swimwear, Ryosuke Irie won the men’s 100-meter backstroke final on Friday but came up short in his bid to rewrite his national record on the opening day of the Japan Open.

Irie, who broke the men’s 200-meter backstroke world record last month but has yet to have the mark ratified by swimming’s governing body FINA because of questions surrounding the swimsuit he wore, touched the wall in 53.31 seconds at Tokyo Tatsunami International Swimming Center, well outside his personal best of 52.56.

“To be honest, I thought it would be tough to set a world record but would still like to have gone under 53 seconds,” said Irie, who was wearing Speedo’s high-tech LZR Racer suit.

“I wanted to respond to expectations so it is a shame. Still, my goal is not to set records here. I want to hit my peak at the world championships (in Rome next month).”

The 19-year-old clocked 1 minute, 52.86 seconds in the 200-meter backstroke at the inaugural Canberra Swimming Meet between Japan and Australia on May 10, slicing 1.08 seconds off the previous world record set by American Ryan Lochte at last year’s Beijing Olympics.

But FINA has not approved the Descente swimsuit Irie donned and will re-examine it after it is modified.

Irie’s Japanese record in the 100 was also set at the Canberra meet and was just 0.02 off American Aaron Piersol’s world mark set in Beijing.

In other races, Athens Olympics 200-meter butterfly bronze medalist Yuko Nakanishi, who sat out the national championships in April, won the 100 butterfly in 58.72.

The women’s 100-meter breaststroke was won by Satomi Suzuki in the second-fastest ever Japanese time of 1:07.41, while Ryo Tateishi won the men’s 100 breaststroke in 59.87.

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