By Sharon Robb
August 22, 2014—On a cold, wet, winter night in Australia, Elizabeth Beisel held off teammate Maya DiRado in an exciting race to win the 400-meter individual medley Friday at the Pan Pacific Championships at Gold Coast Aquatic Centre.
The University of Florida alum dominated the women’s field to defend her 2010 title, winning in a Pac Pacs record of 4:31.99. DiRado was second in 4:35.37 and Aussie Keryn McMaster took bronze in 4:38.84.
In the women’s 400-meter individual medley “B” final, Team USA swept the top four places including former Clearwater swimmer Becca Mann finishing second in 4:39.93 and St. Peterburg’s Melanie Margalis placing fourth in 4:40.94.
Beisel, 22, scratched from the 400-meter freestyle for Day Three to focus on the 200-meter backstroke for her second event at world championships.
After getting shut out in the 100-meter freestyle, Michael Phelps was all smiles after helping Team USA to a gold medal in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay in 7:05.17 with teammates Conor Dwyer, Ryan Lochte (fastest split of 1:45.57) and Matt McLean. It is the 29-year-old’s first international meet since coming out of retirement.
“Being able to get back on the podium, it feels amazing,” Phelps said after the race. “It’s a good first day. Good first international meet back.
“There’s no better way to finish this lovely, rainy night then being able to step up with your teammates and win a gold medal,” Phelps said.
Phelps was fourth in his first final event, the 100-meter freestyle in 48.51, but then swam second leg on the winning relay. “I don’t think the 100 was terrible, I am learning all the time,” said the 18-time Olympic gold medalist.
Phelps’ time bumped him ahead of Ryan Lochte for the second individual 100 freestyle spot for world championships.
Aussie Cameron McEvoy won the 100-meter freestyle in 47.82 competing in pouring rain. Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian of Team USA was second in 48.30 and two-time world champion James Magnussen of Australia was third in 48.36.
“I just felt great the whole way,” McEvoy said. “It was an honor to be in a race with such great men, so much those guys have accomplished. What more could I ask for?”
In the women’s 100-meter freestyle, sisters Cate and Bronte Campbell of Australia, coming off the Commonwealth Games, finished one-two. Cate Campbell won in 52.72. Bronte Campbell finished in 53.45. Simone Manuel of Team USA took the bronze in 53.71, her first international medal and junior world record, after holding off teammate Missy Franklin, still nursing back spasms, who was fourth in 53.87.
American women won two more gold medals to end the night. Jessica Hardy held off a hard-charging Kanako Watanabe of Japan to win the 100-meter breaststroke, 1:06.74-1:06.78. American Breeja Larson took bronze in 1:06.99, failing to swim under 1:06.51, unable to make the world championships in the event.
Teenager Katie Ledecky, 17, anchored the winning 4×200-meter freestyle relay with a come-from-behind surge that clinched the win in a meet record 7:46.40 with teammates Shannon Vreeland, Franklin and Leah Smith. Ledecky’s anchor split was 1:54.36.
It was Ledecky’s third gold medal after winning the 200- and 800-meter freestyle double on opening night. She has the 400 and 1500 remaining.
“This is the best feeling ever,” Ledecky said. “It’s great to be here with these girls. This atmosphere, it’s kind of like a classic environment like Friday Night Lights, rain and a relay, so it was pretty fun.”
Japan won two gold medals in the men’s events. At only 5-foot-9, 150-pounds, Kosuke Hagino finessed his way to a win in the 400-meter individual medley in 4:08.31, ahead of Americans Tyler Clary in 4:09.03 and Chase Kalisz in 4:09.62. The medal stand was a sight with Hagino, 6-1 Clary and 6-4 Kalisz.
Yasuhiro Koseki won the 100-meter breaststroke in 59.62. Felipe Silva of Brazil took the silver in 59.82 and Glenn Snyders of New Zealand took bronze in 1:00.18. American Kevin Cordes was disqualified for pulling his water-filled goggles off at the turn. Cordes was the top seed in the event.
Coaches and swimmers from all countries are in agreement that the poor weather is slowing down times. However, Team USA has won eight out of 16 gold medals and 20 of 30 medals overall after two days, midway point of the four-day meet.
Host Australia has already matched its 2010 total of four gold medals and has 13 overall. Japan also has four gold and eight overall.
For those following the Pan Pacs and enjoy being sleep-deprived on the East Coast, prelims are 8 p.m. and finals 5 a.m.
NBC will broadcast highlight races from the Pan Pacs on Saturday and Sunday from 3:30-4:30 p.m. each day. In Australia the entire meet is being televised live.
Swimming Australia is live streaming the meet on its website (www.swimming.org.au).
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org