As I mentioned in the preview, this is the finals session that I am the most excited to watch. Between two WR attempts (Lochte and Soni), the medley relay, and the always excrutiatingly tight 50 free, there will be some excellent racing tonight and a lot to be excited about.
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Medley Relay lineups have been posted. The Americans will throw out Coughlin, Soni, Vollmer and Hardy in the women’s race, and Peirsol, Gangloff, Phelps, and Adrian for the men. No real surprises there. Full women’s relay lineups are here and the men’s lineups are posted here.
Complete results, with splits, are available on star-meets.org and omegatiming.com
Men’s 800 free
Canadian Ryan Cochrane is a distance swimmer who doesn’t wear a cap. He is all-man. I think he has become my favorite non-American swimmer throughout the course of this meet. After winning the 1500 and placing a surprising second in the 400, Cochrane came back and powered his way to another gold medal, this time in the 800. His winning time of 7:48.71 puts him as the second fastest time in the world, just a second off of the top spot. The race was close for a very short time, but Cochrane controlled the last 550 meters of this race to make the win look easy, just like he did in the 1500.
Takeshi Matsuda of Japan looked as though he might give Cochrane a challenge through the first few laps of the race. He sat in second position the whole way until the third-to-last 50, when La Tourette of the USA powered past him for the silver. La Tourette finished in 7:51.62, with Matsuda scoring a 7:51.87, both of which are season bests and rank in the top 7 in the world this year.
Women’s 200 IM
Without Stephanie Rice, Emily Seebohm proved in this race that there was more than one female IM’er in Australia. Seebohm became the first woman in the world to go under 2:10 this year, which is a huge barrier time in the era of post-suit recalibration. Her finals time was 2:09.93, and was achieved in a bit of an unconventional manner. Seebohm, who is arguably the best backstroker in the world right now, actually was beaten on that leg by defending World Champ American Ariana Kukors. Seebohm managed to be dead even with Kukors after the breaststroke, a stroke which the American specializes in but Seebohm struggles in, and powered home on the 50 freestyle.
Kukors’ second place time was 2:10.25, which shaved about a tenth off of her time at Nationals. Caitlin Leverenz, who used a blazing breaststroke split of 36.70 (only 1 other finalist was under 38 seconds) to hold off Julia Wilkinson of Canada.
Men’s 200 IM
Lochte’s fingertips were crossing just across the World Record line until the very last few yards in the 200 IM. With nobody to push him, Lochte had nobody to push him and, unfortunately, that little red line doesn’t show up in the actual pool. Lochte still cruised to an ungodly fast 1:54.43, which is the third fastest time in history regardless of the suit worn. In his post-race interview, Lochte said that he felt good until the last 20 meters of his freestyle, which is where he fell off of the pace, and that he thought all of the races (he already had 5 gold medals and world-best times before this race) had finally caught up to him. It’s too bad this race wasn’t earlier in the meet, or else we would have surely seen a record. As it is, I would be betting the mortgage that he breaks the mark in Shanghai at the 2011 at Worlds.
Not to be overlooked, Clary swam a very fast time of 1:57.61, which makes him the third fastest in the world this year behind Lochte and Phelps. Clary is truly an elite international swimmer, but for at least the third time this meet will have a fantastic swim overlooked because his best events happen to match up with the best events of two men who are two of the best to ever don goggles. Thiago Pereira of Brazil also went a very fast 1:57.83, which places him sixth in the world this year.
This caps off a “perfect meet” for Lochte. Six gold medals in 6 finals, with 6 world-best times. He did scratch the 100 backstroke final, where he was seeded second after prelims, but that should hardly be a black mark on what might be the best meet we’ve seen since Phelps’ 2008 Olympic haul.
Women’s 50 free
Jessica Hardy has more World Records than any woman in the world, and all 4 of them are in breaststroke (50 SC, 100 SC, 50 LC, medley relay). Would it be crazy to say that Jessica Hardy is now a freestyler? Not after this performance. Hardy, who will swim 4 freestyle events and only 1 breaststroke event by the end of this finals session, went a 24.63, which places her third in the world this year. Her teammate Amanda Weir was just back in second with a time of 24.70. Victoria Poon of Canada, who like her male teammate Brent Hayden flies under the radar as one of the better sprinters in the world, was the bronze medalist in 24.76.
Yolane Kukla finished just outside of the medals yet again. This has been a gut-wrenching meet for the Australia. In 4 individual races, she has 3 fourth-place finishes, and a consolation final time that tied the gold-medalist. The good news is that, at only 14 years old, Kukla will have many, many more Pan-Pac Championship races to win what will surely be a huge pile of medals.
** Hardy is tied with Marleen Veldhuis of the Netherlands, who has 3 relay records + the 50 SC record.
Men’s 50 free
Has the crown of “fastest man in the Western Hemisphere” been passed from Cesar Cielo to Nathan Adrian? In this meet, it certainly seems to have. After winning the 100 freestyle, Adrian took the 50m race that is Cielo’s specialty in 21.55. That matches Cielo’s season best time, which was previously the textile World Record, and is now left to chase down France’s Fred Bosquet for the best in the world. Cielo, who had an excellent start, was just behind Adrian in a photo-finish, clocking a final time of 21.57.
Brent Hayden, who is constantly overlooked internationally despite being in the top 6 in the world in both sprint events, finished third in 21.89. This is a season’s best time for Hayden, who will look to move even further up the rankings at the Commonwealth Games in October.
Women’s 200 breast
The Women’s 200 breaststroke A-final featured the last 4 World Record holders–Annamay Pierse, Rebecca Soni, Leisel Jones, and Amanda Beard, dating all the way back to July 25, 2003. And yet, Soni came out a full 2.5 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher, Jones. Soni’s time of 2:20.69 was still off of the pre-textile world record (Leisel’s 2:20.54), but she is swimming so far ahead of the rest of the world in this event that it’s impossible to know how fast she could go if pushed. She now has the 6 fastest times in the world this year in this race.
Jones’ 2:23.23 was the second fastest in the world this year. But still, 2.5 seconds behind the winner. I repeat this stat, because it is just so incomprehensible. Annamay Pierse took the bronze in 2:23.63, meaning this race 3 out of the 4 fastest in the world this year, and Soni STILL won by 2.5 seconds.
Beard, who is the eldest in the chain of World Record holders, finished 5th in 2:24.30. Her high-popping stroke is the antithesis of Soni’s low, line-drive stroke, but has withstood the test of time to maintain as one of the World’s best breaststrokers at 28 years-old, and after a considerable layoff from the pool, due to the birth of her son. She is following in Dara Torres’ footsteps showing that it is possible for women to maintain elite athletic careers even after having children.
Men’s 200 breast
Kosuke Kitajima sat out the rubber-suit-fueled assault on the record books in 2009. Then he moved to Los Angeles. Then he started training again. This must explain why he treats the “untouchable” World Records with such gal, seeming to be unphased by their seeming insurmountability. Kitajima, who is the defending and reigning Olympic champ in both breaststroke events, finish in a 2:08.36. Although this time is a full-second off of Christian Sprenger’s mark of 2:07.31, he was right at the mark before fading hard in the last 20 or so meters. Keep in mind that the Japanese team is still 3 months away from their taper meet, the Asian Games, so put the World Record watch on for November. As it is, Kitajima put up the best time ever in textile. He might be swimming better than ever, and if he continues to improve, the year off might be one of the most brilliant tactical decisions in swimming history.
Brenton Rickard, the 100m WR holder who has failed to medal so far in individual this week, had a big rebound swim to finish in 2:09.97. This is still about 6 tenths off of his season’s best, but that was done at full-taper in March. American Eric Shanteau, who like Rickard had been shut out up to this point, scored the bronze in 2:10.13, which is just slower than his Nationals time.
Women’s 1500m freestyle
Kate Ziegler is known for her finishing kick at the end of the grueling distance freestyle races, as is evidenced by this video that David “the Swim Geek” Reider shared with me. But Ziegler got a bit of a taste of her own medicine from World Open-Water bronze medalist Melissa Gorman. After holding a solid lead throughout most of the race, Ziegler was slowly reeled in by Gorman, who finally passed her at the 1400 meter mark. Given that Gorman excels in races 3-6 times this distance, it was unlikely that once she built a 1.8 second lead going into the last 50, even a Ziegler-esque finish wouldn’t be able to pull her in.
Gorman’s finishing time was 16:01.53, the second fastest in the world this year and a personal best time. Ziegler, the World Record holder who hasn’t swum an official 1500m since June of 2009, the silver medal is a very respectable finish, with a time of 16:03.26. Kristel Kobrich, the only Chliean swimmer in this meet, won the bronze in 16:06.57.
Women’s 400 medley
At the leadoff of the women’s 400 medley relay, Japan’s Aya Terakawa and Australia’s Emily Seebohm showed that they really wanted the race by swimming dual Pan-Pac records of 59.34 and 59.41 respectively. Next, Australia’s Leisel Jones had a fantastic start to show that she really wanted the race, and split a swift 1:05.38 for the Aussies to give them a lead of almost a second. But none of them wanted the race as badly as Team USA’s Dana Vollmer, who put serious distance between herself and the competition with a 56.91 on the butterfly leg. Jessica Hardy followed that swim up with an incredible split of 53.12 to give the USA an easy win in a race that was very tight through 200 meters.
Their winning time of 3:55.23 blew away Great Britain’s European Championship time by 4.49 seconds, and gave the Americans a gold medal sweep in the relays. Australia was second in 3:56.96, and Japan was third in 3:57.75. This race represented easily the three fastest times in the World this year.
Team USA Splits
Men’s 400 medley
Just like in the women’s race, the Team USA men were trailing headed into the butterfly on the medley relay. Luckily, Michael Phelps scratched the 200 IM today to rest for this race, and he was the difference maker. The American first-2 were crushed by the Japanese tandum of Junya Koga and Kosuke Kitajima, who had the best splits in the backstroke and breaststroke legs, respectively. Kitajima, in fact, was .99 seconds faster than the next closest swimmer on the breaststroke leg, which allowed him to open up a 1.3 second lead on the US.
Unfortunately for the Japanese, Phelps flew on his butterfly leg, to the tune of 50.58. Although he hit the wall only 2 tenths ahead of Japan’s Masayuka Kashida, by the time Nathan Adrian arose from his streamline, he had a full body-length lead. Japan has the best front-half to this relay in the world right now, but the Americans have the best back-half, and in the theme of the meet, the best-back half has been winning almost every time.
The obviously fatigued Americans finished in 3:32.38, which is the second fastest time in the world this year behind the French. Japan’s silver-medaling time was 3:33.90, and the Australians were third in 3:35.55.
Team USA and Japan Comparative Splits
And that completes the pool portion of the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships. Stay tuned as we will have coverage of tomorrow’s 10k open-water swim, as well as recaps, overviews, and insights into all of this weekends happenings. Thanks for following The Swimmers Circle’s coverage of the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships!