GOLD COAST, Australia – The United States won 10 medals Friday at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships, taking home four gold, three silver and three bronze.
Winning gold for the U.S. were Jessica Hardy in the women’s 100m breaststroke, Elizabeth Beisel in the women’s 400m IM, and the men’s and women’s 800m free relays.
Also winning medals for Team USA were Nathan Adrian with a silver in the men’s 100m freestyle (48.30), Maya DiRado with a silver in the women’s 400m IM (4:35.37), Tyler Clary with a silver in the men’s 400m IM (4:09.03), Breeja Larson with a bronze in the women’s 100m breast (1:06.99), Simone Manuel with a bronze in the women’s 100m freestyle (53.71), and Chase Kalisz with a bronze in the men’s 400m IM (4:09.62).
Tonight’s medal haul brings the Americans’ total medal count to 20 – 8 gold, four silver and eight bronze. They lead all nations in both gold medals and total medal count.
Hardy started things off for the U.S. with a win in the 100m breaststroke. The race was textbook Hardy, taking it out strong in the first 50 and then holding on down the homestretch for the win. She finished just four-hundredths of a second ahead of Kanako Watanabe, 1:06.74 to 1:06.78. Larson was third about two-tenths of a second behind.
“I don’t think I ever won a Pan Pac title in that event, which is crazy because I’ve been swimming this for so long,” Hardy said. “But I think that was fun. It wasn’t the time I was hoping to go, but I’m grateful. It definitely was a fun race with some fast swimmers.
“Mentally, I think I just had fun, stayed relaxed. I overcame the bad weather. Normally I like the warm sunshine. I’m a bit of a diva, but I did a good job tonight.”
In the women’s 400m IM, DiRado and Japanese swimmer Sakiko Shimizu were out front and about even at the end of the butterfly leg, before DiRado began to pull away in the first length of the backstroke. Beisel followed suit and took the lead at the 200-meter mark.
From that point, she never looked back, cruising her way to a win with a Pan Pacific record time of 4:31.99. DiRado touched more than three seconds later for silver, while Australia’s Keryn McMaster was third in 4:38.84.
“I feel really good about this swim,” Beisel said. “I’ve been 4:31 for like six years now, and I swim it differently each time. Definitely, it’s cool to get the win. That’s really what we’re here for – to get medals for USA, so I can’t complain.
“I think at Nationals I was a little too aggressive in the first 200. Tonight I decided to swim it differently, and of course I went a 4:31, so that didn’t change, but I’m happy with it.”
The U.S. then capped the session a pair of golds in the women’s and men’s 800m free relay.
The team of Shannon Vreeland, Missy Franklin, Leah Smith and Katie Ledecky defeated rival Australia by more than a second, but it was a close race for most of the way.
Australia took the lead from Canada in the second leg and was ahead of the U.S. by more than a second when Ledecky dove in for the final 200 meters.
Ledecky chipped away at the Aussies and drew even at the 700-meter mark, then took the lead in the final two lengths to win by a body-length. The U.S. touched in 7:46.40, followed by Australia in 7:47.47 and Canada in 7:58.03.
“I think we take a lot of ownership with this event,” Franklin said. “We always have great competitors, especially with the Australians. We knew with the meet in Australia they were really going to put up a fight tonight, but we take so much pride in our relays. They’re not something we like to lose.”
It was Ledecky’s third gold of the meet after winning the 200m and 800m free on the first night of competition.
“I knew I had to sort of think of it as my individual race and not swim it too fast in the first 100,” Ledecky said. “I don’t really know how I did with that, but I knew I had to inch my way up and get my hand on the wall first in the end.”
In the men’s relay, Conor Dwyer, Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Matt McLean trailed Japan by a body length through the third leg, when Lochte pulled even at 600 meters. McLean then engaged in a see-saw battle with Takeshi Matsuda that came down to the wire.
The U.S. touched first in 7:05.17, followed by Japan in 7:05.30 and Australia in 7:08.55.
The U.S. has now won the 800m free relay at every major international competition since the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
“I was a part of the team that won in 2004 against (Ian) Thorpe and Australia’s relays,” Phelps said. “I think being able to hold that tradition for this long and being able to get back on the podium, it feels amazing.
“I think Matt (McLean) swam great. We all swam great legs of that relay, and we got the job done that we needed to. We all know that by no means is this going to get any easier over the next two years, and I think having a close one like this should propel us into Worlds next summer, and hopefully on to Rio from there.”
Other Americans swimming in tonight’s “A” finals included Nicolas Fink, who finished fourth in the men’s 100m breast in 1:00.24; Kevin Cordes, who was disqualified in the men’s 100m breast; Missy Franklin, who finished fourth in the women’s 100m freestyle in 53.87; and Phelps, who finished fourth in the men’s 100m freestyle in 48.51.
Americans swimming in the “B” finals were Micah Lawrence in the women’s 100m breast (9th 1:07.16); Cody Miller in the men’s 100m breast (9th, 1:00.76); Abbey Weitzeil in the women’s 100m free (9th, 53.65); Anthony Ervin in the men’s 100m free (11th, 49.20); Caitlin Leverenz in the women’s 400m IM (9th, 4:38.31); Becca Mann in the women’s 400m IM (10th, 4:39.93); Cammile Adams in the women’s 400m IM (11th, 4:40.41); Melanie Margalis in the women’s 400m IM (12th, 4:40.94); and Michael Weiss in the men’s 400m IM (10th, 4:14.12).
The 2014 Pan Pacific Championships continue Saturday with the men’s and women’s 100m butterfly, 400m freestyle, 200m backstroke and 400m free relay.
For complete results from the meet, click here.