The Yomiuri Shimbun Teen star Rikako Ikee completed a grand slam at the Japan Swim national championships, winning her final two events Sunday to finish the meet with four victories in four events — all in Japan-record times.
Ikee started the final day of her amazing performance at Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center by rewriting her own national record in the women’s 100-meter freestyle, clocking 53.03 seconds to cut 0.43 off her previous mark.
The 17-year-old then returned to the pool for the 50 butterfly final, a non-Olympic event which she won in a new Japan record of 25.43.
“I had declared I was going to do it, so I didn’t really have a choice but to go out and do it,” said a smiling Ikee, who, including preliminary round races, topped Japan marks six times overall in the six-day meet.
Ikee had previously won and set Japan records in the 50 freestyle and the 100 butterfly.
In the 50 butterfly, Ikee completed the race without taking a breath for the first time. This was made possible by building up her cardiopulmonary capacity with high-altitude training overseas, part of her determination to overcome a disappointing showing at last year’s world championships.
“More than saying she’s in great shape, my impression is that she has raised her strength considerably,” national team coach Norimasa Hirai said. “In some events, she’s at the level of medaling at the worlds.”Speech