GOLD COAST, Australia – Katie Ledecky won her fifth gold medal of the meet and set a world, American and meet record in the women’s 1500m freestyle Sunday at the2014 Pan Pacific Championships. Her time of 15:28.36 shattered the former mark of 15:34.23, which she set last June in Shenandoah Texas.
It was her third world record in 15 days. She took down the mark in the 400m free earlier this month at the Phillips 66 National Championships, and then broke it again in last night’s finals.
With tonight’s swim, she became the first woman to break the 15-minute, 30-second barrier in the 1500. She also became the first woman to win four individual gold medals at a single Pan Pacific Championships and was named female swimmer of the meet for her efforts.
“I knew it was my last race of the meet, and the last race of the season,” Ledecky said. “I’ve had a really good season, and I wanted to finish on a good note. I didn’t want to walk away with a meet thinking, ‘Oh, that was just OK.’
“I was planning on digging in deep the last 50, but I had to kind of wait until the last 25. I just put it all in there the last 25.”
Ledecky’s win was just one of three golds for the United States on the final night of competition.
Maya DiRado also took gold in the women’s 200m IM with a meet record time of 2:09.93. The American men’s 400m medley relay then closed out the meet with gold in 3:29.94.
Team USA also won four silvers and three bronzes Sunday. The silver medalists were Michael Phelps in the men’s 200m IM (1:56.04), Anthony Ervin in the men’s 50m freestyle (21.73), Nic Fink in the men’s 200m breaststroke (2:08.94) and Missy Franklin, Jessica Hardy, Kendyl Stewart and Simone Manuel in the women’s 400m medley relay (3:57.41). Wining bronze were Caitlin Leverenz in the women’s 200m IM (2:10.67), Nathan Adrian in the men’s 50m freestyle (21.76) and Connor Jaeger in the men’s 800m freestyle (7:47.75).
Overall, the U.S. took home 40 medals – 14 gold, 12 silver and 14 bronze – and the Pan Pacific Championship team trophy.
Ledecky’s 1500m free was as masterful as it was dominant.
She was under world record pace for the first 200 meters, then fell off that pace until the 1000-meter mark. At that point, not only was she 25 meters ahead of her next-closest competitor, but she continued to build her lead on the world record line displayed on the stadium’s video monitor with each lap.
By the end of the race, she had lapped three swimmers and was about 40 meters ahead of runner-up Lauren Boyle of New Zealand, who touched more than 27 seconds behind in 15:55.69. Brittany MacLean of Canada was third in 15:57.15.
“That was probably one of my most painful races,” Ledecky said. “It was painful, but it paid off in the end. I figured pretty early on in the race that I was on world-record pace. I wasn’t sure about the middle if I fell off too much, because it did really hurt. I was pretty sure I had it, but breaking it by six seconds was pretty surprising, I guess.
“It really hurt, but I was in a good rhythm, and it’s pretty hard to get me out of that rhythm, so I think the momentum just carried me through the race.”
In the women’s 200m IM, DiRado trailed Australia’s Alicia Coutts through the first 100 meters, then moved up to challenge in the breaststroke leg, along with teammate Leverenz. She then outsplit Coutts by 58-hundredths of a second down the homestretch for the win. Coutts took silver in 2:10.25, followed by Leverenz for bronze.
It was DiRado’s second medal of the week after taking silver in the 400m IM on the second night of competition.
“My fly has been feeling really easy this week, so I think I was able to get out well,” DiRado said. “I knew I had to push the backstroke because all the other girls are really good at breaststroke. I think my breaststroke must have been OK, and then I had a lot left coming home in freestyle, so it all came together.”
It definitely all came together for Matt Grevers, Kevin Cordes, Michael Phelps and Nathan Adrian in the men’s 400m medley relay. After diving in about even with Japan for the breaststroke leg, Cordes gave the U.S. a body-length lead at the 200-meter mark. Phelps built on that lead in the butterfly, and Adrian brought it home for the win.
Japan was second in 3:32.08, followed by Australia in 3:33.45.
“This is the best relay to be on,” Phelps said. “We have such a great tradition with this relay. I remember in 2000, when (Aaron) Peirsol and I were talking about wanting to be on this relay in 2004, and I’ve had the privilege to be on this relay pretty much the whole way since then, and it’s been great.
“It’s a fun relay for us to go out and enjoy ourselves. We do go out and are pretty successful in that race, and hopefully we can go faster and faster leading up to the next two years.”
Also swimming in tonight’s finals were Cierra Runge, who finished fourth in the women’s 1500m free in 16:33.06; Michael McBroom, who finished fifth in the men’s 800m free in 7:52.84; Tyler Clary, who finished fifth in the men’s 200m IM in 1:58.79; Simone Manuel, who finished fourth in the women’s 50m free in 24.70; Ivy Martin, who finished seventh in the women’s 50m free in 25.18; Micah Lawrence, who finished fifth in the women’s 200m breaststroke in 2:24.60; Breeja Larson, who finished sixth in the women’s 200m breaststroke in 2:24.90; and Josh Prenot, who finished fourth in the men’s200m breaststroke in 2:11.05.
Ryan Lochte tied Japan’s Kosuke Hagino for the fastest time of the night in the men’s 200m IM in 1:56.02, but was unfortunately swimming in the “B” finals when he did it, and finished ninth. Other Americans swimming in the “B” finals included Melanie Margalis, who finished ninth in the women’s 200m IM in 2:11.42; Madeline Locus, who finished 10th in the women’s 50m free in 25.24; Jimmy Feigen, who finished ninth in the men’s 50m free in 22.38 and Cody Miller, who finished 11th in the men’s 200m breast in 2:13.40.
The 2014 Pan Pacific Championships have drawn to a close. For complete results, click here.