JAKARTA (Kyodo) -- Japan's Olympic medalists Ryosuke Irie and Daiya Seto began their quests for more Asian Games gold when they qualified for their respective swimming finals Sunday morning.
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Irie, gunning for his third successive Asian Games men's 100-meter backstroke gold, posted the second-fastest time overall with 53.85 seconds to set himself up for a much-anticipated duel with reigning world champion Xu Jiayu of China in the evening final.
Xu topped the field of 28 at GBK Aquatic Center with a time of 53.60, with fellow Chinese Li Guangyuan taking third (53.34) and Japan's Masaki Kaneko fourth (54.81).
"It will be a high-level competition with (Xu). I want to make sure that I won't lose mentally," Irie told reporters.
Irie will be in lane five for the final with Xu beside him in lane four.
Meanwhile, defending champion Seto and compatriot Nao Horomura finished with the top two times in the men's 200 butterfly heats, with Seto clocking 1:57.23 and Horomura touching the wall in 1:58.06.
"I'll go aggressively from the start in the final and make sure I don't run out of steam in the latter half. I hope I can clock in the 53-second range," said Seto, winner of the 200 butterfly bronze at last year's worlds.
Among other Japanese, Satomi Suzuki and Reona Aoki advanced to the women's 100 breaststroke final as the top two qualifiers. The Japanese women's team also booked their spot in the final for the 4x100 freestyle relay.
In the men's 200 freestyle, Naito Ehara and Katsuhiro Matsumoto also reached the final.
In every event, the eight fastest swimmers or relay teams qualify for the final.