The Kitajima Cup Swim Meet (Tokyo-Championships) was held at the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center on November 17th and 18th. The meet is named after seven time Olympic medalist Kosuke Kitajima, the most decorated Japanese swimmer ever. Many Japan National team members such as Olympic gold medalist Hagino Kosuke, Asian Games MVP Ikee Rikako, and several other Olympians participated in the meet. Swimmers had to beat strict time qualifications to swim alongside these National team members. Four swimmers from the Buccaneers attended this meet: Seisen 7th grader Uchino Natsuki, Sophomore Junichiro (Jun) Asano, Junior Naoki Martin, and Junior Cameron Fenwick. Natsuki competed in the 50m and 100m freestyle, Jun in the 100m and 200m freestyle, Naoki in the 50m freestyle, and Cameron in the 50m and 100m freestyle.
For each event, preliminaries and finals were held, and swimmers with the fastest times advanced to the finals. There were four finals for each race: A (fastest), B, C (slowest), and non-highschool finals. The B and C finals were reserved for highschool students and below, but swimmers of any age, including Olympians, were able to race in the A finals. The non-highschool finals were for swimmers that were in middle school and below. Natsuki advanced to the non-highschool finals with a time of 29.29 seconds in the 50m freestyle. For the finals, she reflected upon her preliminary swim with Coach Moodie and decided to change her strategy from going out fast start to building up throughout the race. This helped her move up in the rankings from 9th in the prelims to 7th in finals. Jun also made the C finals for both the 100m and 200m freestyle, improving by 0.15 seconds in the final of the 100 and 0.01 in the final of the 200, placing third in both events. Naoki narrowly missed the C finals with a personal best of 25.90. Cameron made the B final for both his races. He later attributed his speed to the pressure that comes from swimming one heat before Olympian Nakamura Katsumi. He performed better in the afternoon with a 0.27 improvement in the 50m and 0.07 in the 100m. His fifty freestyle time of 24.28 in the 50m moved him up to 3rd place in the finals and he placed 5th in the 100m with a swift 53.11.
Several national records were broken by National team swimmers at the Kitajima Cup, and this served as a great opportunity for the swimmers that attended to watch world class swimming. The swimmers look forward to next year’s Kitajima Cup.
Article by Junichiro Asano