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Swimming: Watanabe targets Tokyo after winning Pan Pacifics 200 breaststroke

Ippei Watanabe wins the 200-meter breaststroke at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Tokyo, on Aug. 12, 2018. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's Ippei Watanabe won the men's 200 breaststroke at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships on Sunday and stated his intent to break his world and Olympic records in Tokyo two years from now.

On the final day in the pool at Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center, Watanabe, the world record holder, won in a meet record 2 minutes, 7.75 seconds, 0.14 ahead of runner-up Zac Stubblety-Cook. Australia's Matthew Wilson was third and Japan's Yasuhiro Koseki fourth.

"I wasn't thinking about a world record," Watanabe said. "I was just soaking up the great atmosphere and looking forward to a good race. I've swum here so many times before, but it's never been loud like this before."

"I've been in good form all summer, and now I'm trying to find that next gear. Two years from now (at the Tokyo Olympics), with the atmosphere the way it is now, I want to break my world record. Since I own the Olympic record as well, I want to kill two birds with one stone."

In the day's final race, Japan missed out on gold in the men's 400 medley relay, finishing 0.05 behind the team from the United States. The Americans won in 3:30.20, while Australia took bronze in 3:30.52.

"I am sorry because if I could have only pushed a little harder at the end, we could have won," Katsumi Nakamura said after he, Ryosuke Irie, Koseki and Yuki Kobori secured the silver medal.

The women's team of Natsumi Sakai, Reona Aoki, Rikako Ikee and Tomomi Aoki took the bronze medal in a Japan record 3:55.03, finishing behind Australia, which won in a meet-record 3:52.74 and runners-up the United States.

Irie collected Japan's first medal of the day, the silver in the men's 200-meter backstroke. Irie touched 1.55 behind the winner, American Ryan Murphy, who won in a meet record 1:53.57. Austin Katz of the United States was third, while Japan's Keita Sunama was fifth. Irie had been runner-up to Murphy in the 100 backstroke.

"I wanted to post a time in the 1.54-second range, but I wasn't as prepared as I needed to be," Irie said.

In the women's 200 breaststroke, Satomi Suzuki was third, reaching her first international podium since she won three medals at the 2012 London Olympics. Micha Sumrall of the United States won in 2:21.88, adding the gold to the bronze she won in the 100.

"I won silver in this race in London, and it's been a long hard fight back," Suzuki said. "But I feel I've covered a lot of distance in my battle to compete in Tokyo in two years."

Lillia King, the 100-meter winner, finished 0.24 behind her teammate Sumrall, with Suzuki 0.10 further back. Reona Aoki of Japan, who was second in the 100, was fourth, more than two seconds shy of the podium.

The championships wrap up on Tuesday with the 10-kilometer open water swim at Hojo Beach in Tateyama, Chiba Prefecture.

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