The CNMI’s Kaito Yanai debuted in the 16th FINA World Championships with record-breaking swims at the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia.
Yanai kicked off his bid in the biennial event last Aug. 2, timing in at 1:09.59 in the 100m breaststroke. He eclipsed his previous personal best time (1:11.19), which happened to be the old age group mark, too, in the 15 to 16 division registered on March 21, 2014. Yanai’s new age group records is not yet official, pending certification from Northern Mariana Islands Swimming Federation.
The 16-year-old swimmer was on Heat 2 of the qualifying races for the 100m breaststroke and finished second in his group behind Grenada’s Corey Ollivierre (1:08.39) and ahead of six others.
According to Mike Marron of The Reporters’ Academy, which writes stories on Oceania swimmers competing in Kazan, Yanai also had the second fastest reaction time (62 seconds) off the blocks behind world record-holder and Great Britain’s Adam Peaty (60 seconds). Peaty, whose world record reads at 57.92 seconds, went on to set a new championship mark of 58.52 seconds after topping Heat 9 and surpassing the 58.58 seconds Richard Brenton of Australia logged in Rome, Italy on July 27, 2009.
“I felt nervous after all the work I put in before the championships. It was a great atmosphere, but I was shaking,” Yanai was quoted as saying in a post-race interview with The Reporters’ Academy.
The Tsunami Saipan swimmer had the same reaction time off the blocks in the 50m breaststroke qualifying race last Aug. 4 to again place second behind Peaty (60 seconds) and ahead of then record-holder and South Africa’s Cameron Van Der Burgh (65 seconds). Yanai completed the sprint race in 31.46 seconds, his second personal best and another new age group mark, erasing the 31.90 seconds Kai Staal tallied on July 28, 2009 during the 13th World Championships in Italy.
The Marianas High School student managed to set a new PBT and age group record despite deviating from his plan.
“That was tough. The plan was to go from easy to fast but then I went a bit too fast for the first part and I wasn’t thinking,” Yanai was quoted as saying in an interview with Marron.
Yanai added that although he had a tough race, he was pleased with his results.
Meanwhile, Peaty also ruled the 50m breaststroke event after clocking in at 26.51 seconds in the finals. The Brit broke, too, Van Der Burgh’s world record (26.67 seconds).