Yasunari Hirai, Yumi Kida Win Japan Championships

Yasunari Hirai, Yumi Kida Win Japan Championships

Yasunari Hirai, Yumi Kida Win Japan Championships

Courtesy of WOWSA, Tateyama Hojo Coast, Chiba, Japan.

Pace was slow in the beginning,” said Japanese Olympian Yasunari Hirai about the Japan Open Water Swimming Championships along Tateyama Hojo Coast in Chiba Prefecture, south of Tokyo.

Within view of Mount Fuji, the pre-race favorite had to use every bit of experience, navigational IQ and speed he possesses to win.

The chop picked up [with the wind] in the last part of the race. Especially on the last loop, the chop really came up. It was very choppy and very hard to see [the buoys]. Towards the end, I could not see the goal, but I sprinted in as best I could.”

On the seventh and eighth loop, I tried to catch up to Hirai-san,” said Miyamoto. “I knew it was Hirai-san in the lead so I gave it my all.”

Hirai positioned himself on the inner (shorter) side of the course and had Miyamoto to his right. “I have the speed and experience [to handle these conditions]. But now that this race is over, I am looking forward to representing Japan at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Australia.”

In a race that came down right to the very end, Hirai had a great finish to overcome the taller Miyamoto. Hirai’s reach up to the finish board was lightening quick as he perfectly timed his reach up to the board.

Fellow London Olympian Yumi Kida dominated the women’s race from start to finish. Kida knew her best strategy was to hang with the lead men’s pack for the first half of the race. She did so and effectively and quickly separated herself from her rivals Miki Asayama and Kaoru Yamanaka (all shown below before the race).

I wanted to stay up with the men as long as I could. I knew I could win and am looking forward to racing at the Pan Pacific Championships. The conditions were rough so I knew I had the experience to handle these conditions.”

The race was a selection meet for the 12th Pan Pacific Swimming Championships, the 6th Junior Pan Pacific Swimming Championships, and the FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup in Hong Kong that was held in parallel with the annual Open Water Swimming Japan Open Tateyama (オープンウォータースイミング ジャパンオープン2014館山) race for masters and age-group swimmers.

The men’s results:

1. Yasunari Hirai 1:55:44.02
2. Yosuke Miyamoto 1:55:44.27
3. Shuhei Matsumura 1:56:20.
4. 三村浩介 1:56:24.90
5. 中島拓海 1:59:50.32
6. 青木陽佑 1:59:50.64
7. 富内檀 1:59:51.02
8. 日原彬 2:00:09.14
9. 田村篤識 2:01:30.28
10. 十河健太郎 2:03:54.34
11. 半田虎生 2:03:54.61
12. 岩井瑶樹 2:04:05.34
13. 井関翔 2:06:09.06
14. 渡邉昂希 2:07:09.52
15. 唐島雅博 2:10:15.41
16. 赤石泰宗 2:11:00.82
17. 川﨑一紀 2:12:10.46
18. 横久健祐 2:12:26.18
19. 阿久津照幸 2:13:06.64
20. 池田一生 2:14:02.34

The women’s results:

1. Yumi Kida 2:03:44.01
2. Miki Asayama 2:05:27.79
3. Kaoru Yamanaka 2:07:09.01
4. 太田明成 2:11:49.94
5. 大久保菜穂 2:11:52.17
6. 武本雅代 2:12:06.62
7. 谷口憂羅 2:13:03.88
8. 吉岡理沙 2:13:05.54
9. 佐藤由菜 2:13:06.00
10. 熊坂衣真 2:13:08.79
11. 小浦ひかり 2:16:31.12
12. 松下彩花 2:16:45.79
13. 山口綾乃 2:20:52.62

Japanese-language summary of the Open Water Swimming Japan Open Tateyama by Tasaka Tomoaki is here.

Upper photo shows Yosuke Miyamoto, Yasunari Hirai, Shuhei Matsumura and Japan Swimming Federation chairman and Olympic gold medalist Daichi Suzuki.

Second photo shows Yumi Kida and her coach Kazuko Aoki.

Lower photo shows the Japan Swimming Federation officials watching the exciting men’s finish in Tateyama.

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Steven Munatones