Lochte adds to PanPacs gold stash
Ryan Lochte piled up more gold at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships, winning the 400m individual medley in dominant style and anchoring the victorious US 4x100m freestyle relay.
Lochte opened his medley with a blistering butterfly leg that put him under world record pace, and seized the gold with a time of 4min 07.59sec.
That was the fastest in the world this year – improving on the 4:08.77 he set in the heats when he and Tyler Clary nabbed the top two qualifying spots to squeeze world record-holder Michael Phelps out of the final.
Phelps’s preliminary time was fourth-quickest, but only two swimmers from each country can compete in each final, so Phelps made do with relay duty on Thursday evening.
Phelps put the United States in front leading off the relay and they never relinquished the advantage.
Phelps, Peter Vanderkaay, Ricky Berens and Lochte won in 7:03:84 – 7.17 seconds ahead of runners-up Japan with Australia third.
“I told them before the race to give me the biggest lead possible because I’m going to need it,” Lochte said. “I’m lucky I had clean water.”
In the medley, Lochte said: “I just went out fast and tried to hold on for dear life.”
“I’m just going out there, having fun and racing,” added the free-spirited American, who won the 200m freestyle on Wednesday. “Whatever the outcome is, I’ll take it.”
Clary was second in 4:09.55 and Thiago Pereira of Brazil was third in 4:12.09.
Kosuke Kitajima and Junya Koga claimed gold for Japan, Kitajima comfortably winning the 100m breaststroke and Koga parlaying a stellar start into a victory in the 50m backstroke.
Japan’s quadruple Olympic gold medallist Kitajima won the 100m breaststroke in 59.35sec.
He couldn’t better his heats time of 59.04, but was more than satisfied to get the win ahead of Australia’s Christian Sprenger and American Mark Gangloff.
“I’m happy that I won,” he said. “I didn’t win the Japan title at nationals, so I’m really happy.”
American Nathan Adrian turned it on late to win the 100m freestyle with world record-holder Cesar Cielo relegated to third.
Adrian clocked 48.15 to edge Canadian Brent Hayden, who took silver in 48.19. Cielo, swimming in lane eight after a lacklustre preliminary swim, led at the 50m mark but was powerless to hold off the surging North Americans and finished third in 48.48.
World champion Rebecca Soni, of the United States, led from start to finish to win the 100m breaststroke in 1:04.93, equalling her own third-fastest time ever in the event.
Australia’s two-time Olympic medallist Leisel Jones was second in 1:05.66 and Australian Sarah Katsoulis third.
Natalie Coughlin won her third straight Pan Pacific title in the women’s 100m freestyle, the US veteran powering home in 53.67sec.
Australian Emily Seebohm and American Dana Vollmer tied for second in 53.96.
American Elizabeth Beisel won the women’s 400m medley in 4:34.69, ahead of Australian Samantha Hamill.