American Lochte wins 6th gold, just misses WR in 200 IM at Pan Pacific meet

By Beth Harris, AP
Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lochte wins 6th gold at Pan Pacs

IRVINE, Calif. — Ryan Lochte earned his sixth gold medal at the Pan Pacific championships, just missing lowering his own world record in the 200-meter individual medley Saturday night.

The United States won six gold medals on the final night of the year’s biggest international meet. The Americans led the overall standings with 52 medals, including 26 gold.

Australia’s women won six golds, while their male counterparts were shut out. Overall, the Aussies earned 31 medals.

Lochte’s time of 1 minute, 54.43 seconds erased Michael Phelps’ meet record set four years ago. Phelps dropped out of the event to focus on the 400 medley relay later.

The Americans needed him, too.

Phelps dove in for the butterfly leg with the Americans trailing Japan. He closed in on Masayuki Kishida on his first 50, but didn’t take the lead until the final strokes of his second lap. Nathan Adrian held onto the lead on the anchor leg.

“Maybe I should be a sprinter from now on,” Phelps said. “I said to Nathan, ‘I’ll give you the lead going into that last leg.’ I turned at the 50 and said, ‘Whoa, I got some work to do.’ We weren’t going to let that race slip away from us.”

The United States finished in 3:32.48, sweeping the relays. Japan, whose team included Kosuke Kitajima, was second. Australia finished third.

“Obviously, the U.S. is above and beyond our powers, but we’re at a level where we can put up a good fight,” said Kitajima, who trains in Los Angeles.

Lochte’s time in the 200 IM was just off his world mark of 1:54.10 set at last year’s world championships in Rome, where he won wearing a neck-to-ankle polyurethane suit. Those suits were banned starting this year, replaced by textile suits.

No long-course world records have been set since the return of textile suits.

“I wanted to prove to everyone it wasn’t a fluke,” Lochte said. “I knew I had it in my sight. All the swims I had earlier in the week made me a little tired. I was like, ‘Man, if I’d just taken one or two more dolphin kicks I would’ve had it.’”

American Tyler Clary, runner-up to Lochte in the 400 IM, finished second in 1:57.61. Thiago Pereira of Brazil was third.

Adrian completed a sweep of the freestyle sprints, narrowly defeating world and Olympic champion Cesar Cielo of Brazil at the wall.

Adrian touched in 21.55 seconds, lowering the four-year-old meet record. Cielo, who earned a bronze in the 100 free, was also under the meet mark and finished in 21.57, off his world record of 20.91 set last December.

Brent Hayden of Canada, second in the 100 free, was third in 21.89.

“It’s just a great confidence booster,” said Adrian, the 100 free champion. “There’s maybe a little bit of a target on my back and I’ll have to work that much harder.”

Cielo, who won the 50 butterfly Wednesday, wasn’t happy with his results.

“My freestyle is not going as well as I expected,” he said. “I probably haven’t done well in practice. I’ve probably missed something during the season. My 100 free wasn’t good and today wasn’t good. I’m not as fit as I wanted to be here.”

Kitajima, the two-time Olympic champion, led all the way in winning the 200 breaststroke with the world’s fastest time this year.

He was timed in 2:08.36 after being under world-record pace on the first lap and a tenth of a second off it after 150 meters. Kitajima won the 100 breast earlier in the meet.

“I’m just tired,” Kitajima said in English before switching to Japanese. “I made a very good time for this season so I’m very satisfied.”

Brenton Rickard of Australia earned the silver in 2:09.97. American Eric Shanteau took the bronze.

Olympic champion Rebecca Soni of the United States briefly threatened the world record in the women’s 200 breaststroke before settling for her second individual gold.

Soni won in 2:20.69, the sixth-fastest time ever that also lowered the 11-year-old meet record. Leisel Jones of Australia was second in 2:23.23. World recordholder Annamay Pierse of Canada earned the bronze. Four-time U.S. Olympian Amanda Beard, a 28-year-old mother, was fifth.

Emily Seebohm of Australia upset world champion Ariana Kukors to win the women’s 200 IM.

Seebohm led all the way and touched in 2:09.93. The 18-year-old earned her second gold and third individual medal of the meet.

“It was pretty exciting,” Seebohm said. “To go under 2:09, I never thought that would happen so soon. I’m still in shock.”

Kukors of the United States finished second in 2:10.25, well off her world mark of 2:06.15 set last year in Rome.

“It’s my fastest textile suit time,” she said. “Emily just had a phenomenal race.”

American Caitlin Leverenz earned her second bronze of the meet.

Jessica Hardy of the United States won the women’s 50 free in 24.63, bettering her own meet record of 24.75 set in the morning heats. Her teammate Amanda Weir was second in 24.70. Victoria Poon of Canada earned the bronze.

Hardy returned later to anchor the U.S. to victory in the 400 medley relay, giving the American women a sweep of the three relays.

Natalie Coughlin, Soni, Dana Vollmer and Hardy won in 3:55.23, a meet record. Vollmer gave the U.S. the lead on the butterfly leg and Hardy retained it to earn her fourth gold medal. Australia was second and Japan third.

Ryan Cochrane of Canada led all the way in winning the 800 freestyle for his second gold. The Olympic bronze medalist was timed in 7:48.71, second-fastest in the world this year. Cochrane also won Canada’s only other gold in the 1,500 free.

American Chad La Tourette finished second to Cochrane again, having earned silver behind him in the mile.

Melissa Gorman of Australia overtook American Kate Ziegler in the last 200 meters to win the 1,500 free, a non-Olympic event. She was timed in 16:01.53 to Ziegler’s 16:03.26. Kristel Kobrich of Brazil was third.

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