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14-year-old swimmer Ikee qualifies for worlds


Rikako Ikee on Thursday became the first Japanese middle school student to qualify for the FINA World Aquatics Championships since 2001.

By finishing third in the women’s 200-meter freestyle in 1 minute, 58.77 seconds on the third day of the National Swimming Championships — the 14-year-old Ikee met the necessary standards to compete at this summer’s worlds in the 4×200 freestyle relay. She became the first Japanese middle schooler to make the worlds since Saori Haruguchi competed at the 2001 worlds in Fukuoka.

Kosuke Hagino won his second event at Tatsumi International Swimming Center, capturing the men’s 200 free in 1:45.82. He entered the third day of competition having already won the men’s 400. The top four finishers in the men’s 200 all qualified to swim in the worlds in the 800 relay.

Kanako Watanabe also booked her ticket to the worlds in Kazan, Russia, by winning the women’s 100 breaststroke in 1:06.45. Third-year middle-school student Runa Imai finished second, but her time of 1:07.46 was not fast enough to earn a spot on the national team.