By Sharon Robb
August 24, 2014—Teenager Katie Ledecky broke her second world record at the Pan Pacific Championships Sunday at Gold Coast Aquatic Centre in Southport, Australia.
On the final day of the four-day meet, Ledecky, 17, broke her own 1500-meter freestyle world record in 15:28.36, shaving nearly six seconds off the old record she set in June.
“I knew it was my last race of the meet and last race of the season so I wanted to finish a really good season on a good note,” Ledecky said.
“It was probably one of the most painful races,” Ledecky said. “It was painful, but it pays off in the end, so I’m happy.”
It came a day after she broke her own world record in the 400-meter freestyle in 3:58.86. It was also her fifth gold medal. She won the 200, 400, 800 and 1500-meter individual events and anchored the winning 4×200-meter freestyle relay team.
Ledecky holds the world records in the 400, 800 and 1500 freestyles and is the first woman since American distance great Janet Evans to hold all three records at the same time.
“I am really enjoying the journey and just enjoying each step,” Ledecky said. “Hopefully, there are a few steps left.”
Added Michael Phelps, “She is a stud, watching her swim is remarkable. She is very talented, she works hard and it shows.”
The eighteen-time Olympic gold medalist Phelps continued his comeback journey by taking a silver medal in the 200-meter individual medley, losing the gold by 2/100ths of a second to Japan’s Kosuke Hagino
Phelps was reeling in Hagino in the final 50 meters after trailing by only 0.66 seconds at the final turn but Hagino, who also won the 400 IM, out-touched Phelps in 1:56.02. It was the identical time Ryan Lochte clocked in the “B” final.
“Today my body was hurting,” Phelps said. “I woke up this morning and my body was in pain. After this morning’s race and a nap, I felt pretty fresh for final. If I would change anything it would probably be to step on the first 100 meters.
“I think for my first real international meet back we accomplished everything we wanted to,” Phelps said. “We were able to find out some of the things that I need to improve on over the next year. I need to work on holding my stroke, to do a comfortable stroke at that high speed and that will come with faster races and faster things in workout.”
Phelps won his second gold medal of the meet as a member of the winning 4×100-meter medley relay in a meet record 3:29.94 with teammates Matt Grevers, Kevin Cordes and Nathan Adrian.
Phelps, 29, also won a gold medal in the 100-meter butterfly in 51.29.
Ryan Lochte lost the final spot in the 200 IM final to Phelps after Tyler Clary qualified with a faster time. Only two swimmers from each country are allowed to compete in finals. Lochte was a silver medalist behind Phelps in the event at the 2012 London Olympics.
In other championship finals:
American Maya DiRado won the 200-meter individual medley in 2:09.93 ahead of Aussie Alicia Coutts in 2:10.25. American Caitlin Leverenz took the bronze in 2:10.67. St. Petersburg’s Melanie Margalis won the “B” final in 2:11.42. DiRado and Margalis will represent the U.S. at next year’s world championships.
Aussie Cate Campbell won the 50-meter freestyle in 23.96, equalling the world’s fastest time in 2014.
Canadian Ryan Cochrane won the 800-meter freestyle in 7:45.39. American Connor Jaeger was third in 7:47.75.
Brazilian Bruno Fratus won a stacked 50-meter freestyle race in a meet record 21.44. American team captain Anthony Ervin was second in 21.73 and Nathan Adrian was third in 21.80.
Japan swept the 200-meter breaststroke. Kanako Watanabe won the women’s gold in 2:21.41 and Yahuhiro Koseki won the men’s title in 2:08.57.
Australia won the women’s 4×100-meter medley relay in a national record 3:55.49 over the Olympic champion Americans with Cate Campbell, Lorna Tonks, Emily Seebohm and Alicia Coutts.
The Aussie men’s and women’s sprint relay teams knocked off the U.S. for the first time in 12 years. “It’s always good to get one up on the Americans like that,” said Aussie Cameron McEvoy.
As expected, Team USA was the dominant country with 14 gold medals, 12 silver and 14 bronze. Host Australia, in the middle of a resurgence after a disastrous 2012 Olympics, was second with ten gold, eight silver and eight bronze, Japan had seven and South Korea, Canada and Brazil each had one gold medal.
“For us, we just needed to get in there, not get too overwhelmed with the home crowd and use it to the best of our ability,” said Aussie swimmer Tommaso D’Orsogna. “It’s just about developing this team that we’ve got and really moving forward as well as we can towards Rio.”
Rio de Janeiro is host city for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
Despite back spasms, Missy Franklin will represent the U.S. at worlds in the 100 and 200 freestyle, 100 and 200 backstroke and relays.
The 10K open water events, scheduled for Monday, were postponed because of poor water quality and high levels of E. Coli at two Gold Coast venues. The four charter nations, USA, Japan, Canada and host Australia did not want to risk the health and safety of their athletes.
The event will now be held in conjunction with the Junior Pan Pacs in Maui, Hawaii on August 31. Team USA’s open water swimmers including former Clearwater Aquatics Team swimmer Becca Mann, will return to Los Angeles on Tuesday before heading to Hawaii on Thursday. Mann scratched from the 1500 to focus on the 10K.
Organizers decided to move the event after strong winds and heavy rain caused concerns with the water quality. The heavy rain caused increased pollution in the waterways and lakes.
At a cost of $41.39 million to refurbish the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre with a new competition pool, many coaches, swimmers and fans are questioning why a retractable roof on the venue was not included in the facelift plans. The venue will host the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com