Kitajima returns to spotlight


Two years after completing a 100-200 breaststroke double for the second straight Olympics, Kosuke Kitajima is hoping to shine again, this time in his “second home” of California.

“I want to record a season-best time,” the 27-year-old said Monday, two days before the start of the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships.

Kitajima has been training at the University of Southern California since last year with the aim of swimming for a three-peat at the London Olympics in 2012.

“We’ll see what kind of race I’m going to have against top swimmers in the world,” Kitajima said.

He did not win any of the 50-, 100- and 200-meter breaststroke events at the Japanese championships in April but turned in strong performances in the three-leg European Grand Prix series two months later, including a 200-meter victory in Canet, France, in 2 minutes, 10.73 seconds — his personal best since making a competitive comeback last November.

Backstrokers Junya Koga and Ryosuke Irie will also take part in this five-day regional meet. Koga won the 100-meter gold medal and Irie took the 200 silver at the world championships in Rome last summer.