News

Road to Rio paved in gold for Swim Team

24 August 2014

SWIMMING: The pool competition at the 2014 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships have come to an end with Australia coming away with a total of 26 medals – 10 gold, 8 silver and 8 bronze from the four day meet at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre. 

The Australian Swim Team will leave the competition with a total of 17 personal best performances, seven pan pac records, three gold medals in relay events and one Australian and equal Commonwealth record (Cate Campbell, 23.96) in the 50m freestyle. 

Strong performances across the board for the Australian team indicate an exciting future for the sport as the World Championships in 2015 and Rio Olympic Games in 2016 approach. 

Cate Campbell and Cameron McEvoy cemented themselves as the rising stars of the Australian swim team this meet, picking up another swag of medals on the final night of competition. 

After breaking the meet record for the 50m freestyle in the morning’s heats, Campbell lowered it again with an emphatic 23.96 to win gold in the one-lap-dash. Younger sister Bronte Campbell was second in 24.56 with Chantal Van Kandeghem of Canada taking the bronze in 24.69. 

Cate then regrouped to swim the anchor leg of the 4 x 100m medley relay, picking up her fourth gold medal of the meet. 

Emily Seebohm led the relay, clocking 59.44 in the backstroke leg giving Australia the early lead. Lorna Tonks faced a tough challenge up against the formidable Jessica Hardy who got the USA out in front by a second. 

A smooth transition saw butterfly swimmer Alicia Coutts in the water for Australia, going even faster than her great 100m individual swim to touch in 56.76. Coutts produced an outstanding second 50 metres to reel in the Americans, edging back into the top spot. 

With only 0.03 seconds separating the Australians from their US counterparts, it was up to Campbell to really bring it home for gold. She swam a blistering 51.85 to give Australia a resounding gold medal win. 

“Alicia is one of the gutsiest performers out there and she really puts it all on the line for her country,” Campbell said. “And she did that tonight and put us in the position that allowed me to swim to the best of my ability and really allowed us to come away with the win.” 

With four gold medals under her belt from a very successful campaign, Campbell then revealed that she would next week be having shoulder surgery which would see her out of competition for the rest of the year. 

“It’s something that I have been able to manage really well,” Campbell said of the bone spur issue. “It hasn’t hugely affected my training but it was something that I needed to fix and now’s the time to do it – two years out from Rio.”

Cameron McEvoy also did the 50m sprint and medley relay double, placing fourth in the dash and grabbing a bronze in the relay to bring his total medal tally to five this meet. 

Mitch Larkin flew out of the blocks to start the relay, swimming the third fastest backstroke time of 53.46. Rookie Jake Packard then got his first taste of a top-notch international relay, bringing home the breaststroke leg in 1:00.02, an improvement on his individual final time. 

Tommaso D’Orsogna was in the water for the butterfly leg, taking on the great Michael Phelps and doing everything he could to hold on as the USA ran away with the lead with Japan and Brazil chasing hard. As D’Orsogna touched for McEvoy, the home crowd roared and the 20-year-old swam down Brazil to finish in 47.63 claiming the bronze for Australia. 

The women’s 200 IM was another podium finish for Alicia Coutts, the 26-year-old unable to hold off a strong challenge from Maya Dirado of the United States on the final lap. Coutts had the faster splits on the first three legs but Dirado got her in the freestyle to win by just 0.32 of a second. Caitlin Leverenz of the USA took bronze in 2:10.67. 

In other Olympic events… 

Women’s 200m Breaststroke

Teenager Taylor McKeown broke through for a bronze medal in the women’s 200m breaststroke, finishing in 2:22.89. After winning gold in the event at the recent Commonwealth Games, McKeown put together a great race to come in just behind the Japanese gold and silver medallists Kanako Watanabe (2:21.41) and Rie Kaneto (2:21.90). Sally Hunter was seventh in 2:25.25. 

Men’s 50m Freestyle

Brazil’s Bruno Fratus won gold in the crowd-pleasing men’s 50m freestyle, a chaotic lap of whitewater with the scoreboard the only way to tell who touched first. Fratus, who was fourth in the event at the London Olympics, edged out Anthony Ervin and Nathan Adrian of the USA to win the splash and dash in 21.44 - a new Pan Pacs record. Australia’s Cameron McEvoy was fourth in 22.07 whilst Matt Abood was sixth in 22.18.

Men’s 200m IM

A late surge in the final freestyle lap of the 200m IM was classic Michael Phelps but the champion swimmer just missed catching Japan’s Kosuke Hagino who won gold in 1:56.02. Phelps was only 0.02 seconds off the win with Daiya Seto of Japan taking bronze in 1:57.72. Travis Mahoney was sixth in a personal best time of 1:59.79.

Men’s 200m Breaststroke

With Kevin Cordes pulling out of the men’s 200m breaststroke to focus on the relay, the race came down to a battle between the in-form Nicolas Fink of the USA, his teammate Josh Penot and Japan’s pairing of Yasuhiro Koseki and Kazuki Kohinata. Koseki edged out Fink for the gold, winning in 2:08.57 ahead of the American’s 2:08.94, while Kohinata took bronze in 2:10.14.

At the conclusion of the meet the following team awards were presented: 

The Kieren Perkins Medal – Cameron McEvoy

The Susan O’Neill Medal – Cate Campbell

The Don Talbot Medal – Simon Cusack

The Georgina Hope Foundation Rising Star Award – Mack Horton

The following is the medal tally for the top 3 nations in Olympic pool events 

NATION

GOLD

SILVER

BRONZE

TOTAL

United States of America

13

12

13

38

Australia

10

7

8

25

Japan

7

8

4

19

 

 

 

Swimming Australia and AOC

Golden night for Australia at Pan Pacs

SWIMMING: It was a golden night in the pool for Australia at the 2014 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships, with the host country winning four gold, one silver and one bronze medal.

Spurred on by the home crowd the Aussies won gold in the 200m backstroke to Belinda Hocking; the 100m butterfly to Alicia Coutts and then finished the night with two stirring victories in the 4x100m freestyle relays for men and women. 

After breaking the world record at the Commonwealth Games last month, the Aussie girls went into the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay as the hot favourites, with team USA determined to push them to the limit.

Australia’s fastest female Cate Campbell was in the water first, clocking 52.89 to set the tone for the race. A smooth transition saw London golden girl Brittany Elmslie back in the team for Emma McKeon with the 20-year-old up against the might of Missy Franklin. Elmslie just held on to Franklin, producing a split of 53.72 to put Australia in front at the halfway mark by just 0.02 of a second.

Relay veteran Melanie Schlanger then produced her fastest 100m of the meet, 52.97, to extend the lead.  An amazing transition by Bronte Campbell, and a 52.88 swim to follow it, brought the Aussies home for gold in 3:32.46 leaving the Americans and the old Pan Pacs record in their wake with Japan taking with the bronze. 

“It was pretty cool to be part of that 4 x 100,” Elmslie said. 

“The last time I was part of it was 2012 and I’ve have had a few battles over the years but I’m getting back into it and finding my love for swimming again – it’s just really good to be part of a relay.

“Standing behind the blocks with those three other girls, I had lots of confidence. They are all world record holders. I watched them break that record in Glasgow and…it inspired me. 

After the sensational men’s 100m freestyle race last night, the relay promised fireworks and with a pool full of the fastest men in the world, strategy played a big part. Australia led with Tommaso D’Orsogna who went head-to-head with Michael Phelps and touched fourth behind the USA, Japan and Brazil. James Magnussen and Nathan Adrian were the two big names swimming the second leg, clocking 47.68 and 47.71 respectively. 2011 World Champion relay swimmer Matt Abood then held his own in the third leg to split 48.23.

With 100 metres to go, no one would have expected to see Brazil in the lead, with nothing separating them from both Australia and the USA. It came down to the individual champion from this meet, Cameron McEvoy, to secure the gold. McEvoy charged home in the final 50 metres, clocking 47.60 to leave USA’s anchor Ryan Lochte to collect silver for the USA.

“It’s unreal!” D’Orsogna said of winning gold and getting one-up on the Americans. “Those guys are fierce competitors when it comes to the relays. Everybody knows that Team USA is going to bring 100 per cent to every race that they do. For us we just needed to get in there, not get too overwhelmed by the home crowd but use it to the best of our advantage. Everyone put in a massive effort –great splits there for all the boys and that’s why we were able to get up tonight.”

Putting the demons of her disappointing Commonwealth Games behind her, Alicia Coutts held off a strong 100m butterfly field to touch for gold.

“I’m just glad to come away with a win tonight,” Coutts said. “It was a bit of a blow to me mentally, the Commonwealth Games . My coach told me: ‘You’ve done this a million times, just go out there and do it how you know you’re supposed to…the last 15 metres is the most important of the race and not to breathe the last five strokes so I did that and it paid off on the touch. 

Coutts’ time of 57.64 saw her grab the gold from Olympic silver medallist Lu Ying of China (57.76), with Kendyl Stewart of the USA taking bronze in 57.82.Emma McKeon was unlucky not to be on the podium, finishing fourth just 0.03 seconds behind Stewart in 57.85.

In the women’s 200m backstroke, the unstoppable duo of Belinda Hocking and Emily Seebohm were at it again.

After winning silver in the women’s 100m backstroke earlier in the meet, Hocking  put together the perfect race to win gold in the women’s 200m backstroke. Hocking touched the wall in 2:07.49 breaking the Pan Pacs record in an exciting finish that saw 100m specialist Emily Seebohm (2:07.61) come out of nowhere in lane 7 to challenge for the win.

“I had no idea!” Hocking said of Seebohm’s late surge. “I had no idea that Em was there but I knew that she had been swimming well. She did a very fast time in the 100 so I knew she would be competitive tonight.” 

Japan’s Sayaka Akase was in the lead at the half way mark with World and Olympic Champion Missy Franklin just behind. Hocking deployed her trademark back-end speed to mow down Franklin and the rest of the field.

“Missy is one of those people that is an untouchable…that you don’t think you can ever get close to,” Hocking said. “ We have seen this meet that, we are athletes but first and foremost we are humans and it showed that Missy is human and she can be beaten. But I have gained confidence going into the next two years." 

Elizabeth Beisel took bronze in 2:08.33.

In the corresponding men’s event, Mitch Larkin had a huge task ahead of him with the Japanese pairing of Ryosuke Irie and Kosuke Hagino – ranked one and two in the world – leading the charge, along with the powerhouse US duo Ryan Murphy and Tyler Clary.

Coming into the final 50 metres, there was nothing separating Larkin from Clary and Irie and it even looked like the 21-year-old from Brisbane could pull off a massive upset and take gold. Not quite nailing the perfect touch, Larkin had to settle for bronze, but his time of 1:55.27 eclipsed what he swam to win gold in Glasgow and was just 0.01 of a second outside his Commonwealth record, which will give the young Aussie confidence heading towards Rio. Clary was the eventual gold medallist in 1:54.91 with Irie taking silver in 1:55.14. Josh Beaver put in a strong challenge to finish fifth in 1:57.70

In other events…

Women’s 400m Freestyle

After breaking a 25-year-old Pan Pacs record this morning, teenager Katie Ledecky came out and went one better, smashing her own 400m freestyle world record to finish in 3:58.37. The 17-year-old American was over six seconds ahead of the next best placed athlete – Cierra Runge of the USA who took silver in a time of 4:04.55, ahead of Lauren Boyle of New Zealand who grabbed bronze in 4:05.33

“It’s a great feeling,” Ledecky said of breaking the world record, something she has done four times now. “It never really gets old. I knew I could be right at what I was at Nationals or a little better.”

Bronte Barratt was sixth in 4:10.40 and 16-year-old Alanna Bowles put in a great performance to finish seventh in 4:10.58.

Men’s 400m Freestyle

It was a stacked field in the men’s 400m freestyle with defending Pan Pacs Champion Tae Hwan Park of Korea, world number one Ryan Cochrane and Japanese powerhouse Kosuke Hagino all lining up, with Aussies Mack Horton and David McKeon right in the mix. Both Australians held their own in the race, with nothing separating the field over the eight laps. Horton finished in fifth in 3:46.19 and McKeon was sixth in 3:46.40, both boys just unable to catch the leaders. The race belonged to Park who snatched the lead at the first 100 and didn’t let it go, clocking 3:43.15. Hagino was second in 3:44.56 and USA’s Connor Jaeger nudged out Cochrane to take bronze in 3:45.31.

Men’s 100m Butterfly

There were no Aussies on the podium but the men’s 100m butterfly had the crowd on their feet, cheering on the best Olympic swimmer of all time – Michael Phelps – as he soared to victory in 51.29. It was the first international gold for the superstar since announcing his retirement at the conclusion of the London Olympics, and for a moment it looked like he might be beaten to the punch by his teammate Ryan Lochte, who touched in 51.67.

“It feels to be good to be back up there individually,” Phelps said. “It’s been a struggle coming back so I think it’s great for my confidence...to show that I can swim fast. I was able to learn a lot. I didn’t do it for any other reason than that I wanted to be back – I wanted to be in the pool.”

Australia’s Tommaso D’Orsogna was fourth in 52.67 whilst Gold Coast local Chris Wright was sixth in 52.75. Tim Phillips of the USA produced the second fastest time of the night, swimming 51.52 to win the B final.

Swimming Australia

McEvoy and Campbell sisters deliver speed

Swimming fans around the world held their breath tonight as competitors in both the men’s and women’s 100m freestyle put on a spectacular show of speed and style as they splashed through the two lap dash at the 2014 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships on the Gold Coast. 

Heralding a new era of sprint freestyle, Cameron McEvoy went out fast and couldn’t be caught, eventually hitting the wall to win gold in a time of 47.82, to set a new Pan Pacs record. 

McEvoy lifted to perform under pressure, swimming against Olympic Champion Nathan Adrian, back-to-back World Champion James Magnussen and the greatest ever Olympian Michael Phelps. 

A Gold Coast local, the crowd roared as McEvoy soared home in the final 50 metres, clear of his rivals to be the only athlete under 48 seconds. 

“To me, it felt pretty perfect,” McEvoy said after the race. 

“Anytime you swim in front of a home crowd, it’s always going to feel great with your friends and family in the crowd. And also, I was just happy to be there in such great company in that race. Going out, I just wanted to enjoy it because when’s the next time I’ll be able to be in a race with people like that?” 

With results like this, McEvoy should be prepared to race ‘people like that’ more and more as the two-year countdown to the Rio Olympic Games begins. 

“You have always got to have in the back of your mind that you do have the possibility of winning,” he said. “But in saying that, I wouldn’t have been disappointed if I didn’t win. That’s one of the best ways I can approach a race – just being relaxed and being grateful that I am there.” 

Despite suffering from a painful disc injury in his back, Magnussen came away with the bronze medal, clocking a time of 48.36. 

“I didn’t quite have the preparation to go fast tonight,” Magnussen said. 

“I was in a lot of pain and I had eight days out of the water. I’ve raced with back pain before, although probably not this serious but you only get so many chances in your lifetime to represent your country so I was pretty determined to try and swim. I put it on the line tonight - that was all I had.” 

Olympic champion, Adrian wasn’t quite able to replicate his blistering heat swim, finishing in 48.30 with the silver medal. 

His countryman Phelps, came into the meet with a level of uncertainty, returning to international competition for the first time since announcing his retirement in 2012. 

After a fast morning heat, any uncertainty was gone – the best ever was back. Phelps swam 48.51 in the final, a time that left him just shy of the podium but ensured he’d be on the blocks at next year’s World Championships, the launching pad to Rio 2016. 

Determined to not be upstaged by the boys, Cate Campbell and sister Bronte delivered a magical sister act in the women’s 100m freestyle to a sold out home crowd. 

Cate pulled off a blistering swim to finish in 52.72, just missing her own record set in this morning’s heats. 

“I won’t lie, I was feeling a bit of the fast swim from this morning – it was stinging a little bit,” the 22-year-old said. 

“I’m happy to come away with the win. This meet isn’t so much racing for times it’s about racing for places because everyone is in a bit of a world of pain at the moment and we are all pulling through and I’m so incredibly proud of everyone.” 

Campbell now has the World, Commonwealth and Pan Pacs titles to her name – with the final piece of the puzzle awaiting her in Rio. 

“Absolutely – I am so excited,” she said about going for gold at the next Olympics. “I almost don’t want to have a break. Almost! I’ll definitely be taking a little bit of time off and then refocusing. We have two years to go and it’s looking very good. 

Younger sister Bronte improved on her heat time, clocking 53.45 to grab silver ahead of Simone Manuel of the USA (53.71). 

“I love to win but I was proud of my race tonight and if I’m going to finish second then there is no one I’d rather finish second to than Cate,” said Bronte. 

Another Campbell waiting in the wings…waiting for Rio. 

In other events… 

Women’s 400m Individual Medley 

Keryn McMaster gave it everything in the final of the women’s 400m individual medley, with the 20-year-old posting a time of 4:38.72 to bag the bronze medal. 

Qualifying for the meet off the back of her bronze medal performance at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, McMaster came to the Pan Pacs with a medal in mind. 

The young Queenslander will be buoyed by her performance on the international stage so soon after Glasgow and will now regroup ahead of Sunday’s 200m IM. Elizabeth Beisel of the USA was first in 4:36.89, with Maya Dorado second in 4:37.53. 

Women’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay 

The women’s 4x200m freestyle relay team of Bronte Barratt, Emma McKeon, Brittany Elmslie and Melanie Schlanger combined to secure the silver medal in a race to the wall with team USA.  

Dual Olympian Barratt led the charge for Australia but was just under the pace set by USA’s Shannon Vreeland over the first 200m. Although not tasting individual success at this meet so far, McKeon executed a perfect relay swim to grab the lead. The teenager had the superior turns over superstar Missy Franklin and gained nearly two seconds on the USA to put Australia half a body length in front. 

Elmslie was third out and held Australia’s lead but the final leg was always going to be the biggest challenge. The USA was anchored by powerhouse swimmer Katie Ledecky who took gold in the individual 200m on Day 1. Taking her on was Australia’s Melanie Schlanger, a dual Olympic medallist in this event, but fatigued from her earlier 100m, the 27-year-old just couldn’t hold on to the win, finishing in 7:47.47 to the USA’s 7:46.40. Canada was third in 7:58.03. Australia's time was over two seconds faster than their time at the Commonwealth Games. 

Men’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay 

The USA held off an incredibly strong Japanese relay team to win gold in the men’s 4x200m freestyle with Australia taking bronze. 

It was Japan who took the early lead, Kosuke Hagino showing no signs of slowing down following his 400m IM win, to have the touch on Australia’s David McKeon, and USA’s Conor Dwyer at the end of the first 200m. 

Cameron McEvoy then faced off against Michael Phelps for the second time in an hour, but Reo Sakata made use of his fresh legs to streak away with a two second lead. Putting aside his exhaustion from last night’s 1500m, Mack Horton tried his hand at the sprint distance and held his own but it was the returning champion Ryan Lochte who shone in this leg. Lochte had a great changeover and started to pull in Japan’s Yuki Kobori, taking the lead with 100m to go and hitting the wall 0.01 seconds behind Japan. 

The crowd was on its feet as the anchor swimmers brought the race home. USA’s Matt McLean and Japan’s Takeshi Matsuda went stroke for stroke but it was the American who won by a fingernail, clocking 7:05.17 to Japan’s 7:05.30. Straight off the back of his 400m IM, Thomas Fraser-Holmes delivered another fast 200m freestyle split to secure the bronze. Once again the Australian team went faster than they did a few weeks ago in Glasgow. 

Women’s 100m Breaststroke 

After breaking through for her first big international medal at the recent Commonwealth Games, Lorna Tonks put together a strong final in the women’s 100m breaststroke but just couldn’t quite touch for a medal, finishing fourth in 1:07.41. 

Veteran US swimmer Jessica Hardy took out the event in 1:06.74, with Japan’s teenager Kanako Watanabe second in 1:06.78 and USA’s Breeja Larson rounding out the medals with bronze in 1:06.99. Up and comer Taylor McKeown was fifth in 1:07.55. A 200m specialist, McKeown will use the 100m final as useful experience ahead of her pet event on Sunday. 

Men’s 100m Breaststroke

Swimming in his first senior Australian team, young-gun Jake Packard swam 1:00.54 to finish sixth in a race not without drama. A month after winning an LA Invitational in a new meet record, Packard found himself in top company at the Pan Pacs with world number eight Kevin Cordes leading the charge. Cordes was kept off the podium however with a disqualification - a year after being part of a relay transition disqualification at the 2013 World Championships.

Cordes’ cap slipped diving into the pool and his goggles filled up with water, forcing him to take them off during the turn. Japan’s Yasuhiro Koseki took top honours in 59.62 with Felipe Franca Silva of Brazil also swimming sub one-minute to take the silver medal in (59.82) – season’s best times for both swimmers. New Zealander Glenn Snyders was third in 1:00.18.

Men’s 400m Individual Medley

It was a big night of swimming for Thomas Fraser-Holmes, taking on the grueling 400m IM and then just minutes later stepping on the blocks for the relay. The 22-year-old Gold Coast local delivered a strong performance in the medley, touching just outside the medals – fourth in 4:10.55. His teammate Travis Mahoney was seventh in 4:17.95. The race belonged to Japan’s Kosuke Hagino, the 20-year-old taking gold in 4:08.31. The Olympic bronze medallist, Hagino showed why he is the world’s top ranked swimmer over the distance, dominating every leg and coming within in a fraction of the meet record. Silver and bronze went to Americans Tyler Clary (4:09.03) and Chase Kalisz (4:09.62) respectively.

Swimming Australia

Flying freestylers chasing scalps and records

The second night of finals at the 2014 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships will see the fastest men and women in the world line up on the blocks chasing the blue riband 100m freestyle crowns. 

The morning heats saw swimmers flying and records falling, with the world’s greatest athletes vying for a spot in the finals. 

Crowd favourites Cate and Bronte Campbell came out firing in the women’s 100m freestyle, with Cate hitting the wall in a sizzling 52.62 to clock the fastest time in the world this year. 

Cate’s time will bump Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden out of the number one spot on the world rankings, a position she held for only a day after lodging 52.67 at the European Championships final. 

“I always knew the heats this morning were going to be really quick,” Cate said, “So I knew that I had to post a good performance and I’m very happy to just make it through.” 

This morning’s swim was Cate’s fastest in this event since winning the World Championships in 2013 and will see her progress as fastest qualifier, just ahead of her younger sister Bronte. 

Bronte touched the wall in 53.50, breaking the Pan Pacs record, albeit only for a moment until big sister Cate swooped in. 

“It was like trials again,” Bronte said of the nerves she had going into this morning’s heats. “You have to prove yourself to make the spot. And that’s what’s so good about this meet. 

You’ve got to step up and do it. And it doesn’t matter who you are, what your name is, anyone can be beaten and that’s why it’s so exciting.” 

The sister act will face tough competition in the final, in particular from the USA’s Missy Franklin who posted  53.75. 

Melanie Schlanger (53.65) and Brittany Elmslie (54.29) will go through to the B final. Other Aussies from this morning’s heats included Emma McKeon (54.96), Bronte Barratt (55.28), and Madeline Groves (56.11). 

Not to be outdone by their female counterparts, the men’s 100m kept the crowds on the edge of their seats. 

Nathan Adrian, James Magnussen, Michael Phelps and Cameron McEvoy – four of the fastest men in the world – will go head to head in tonight’s 100m freestyle final, with nothing to lose and everything to gain. 

Magnussen, who has been struggling with back issues over recent months, took on the might of Olympic Champion Adrian of the USA in the final heat of the day, with the rivals going head to head the whole race. It was the US Olympic Champion Adrian (48.05) who just edged out Magnussen (48.25) for the win in a new Pan Pacs record time. 

“They didn’t leave anything in the tank and I know what they’re capable of now,” a relaxed Magnussen said of his US rivals. 

“I felt good,” the World Champion said. “The start felt fine. The turn was pretty rusty – underwater is probably the hardest thing for me at the moment, but I’m just pushing through and not worrying about my back.” 

The world’s greatest Olympian Phelps came out with a bang – winning his heat in 48.45, his best time since coming back to the sport. Bettered by only one of his teammates, it was enough to get him through to the final. 

“The biggest thing is that I want to be part of the team,” Phelps modestly said after his race. 

With bragging rights, pride and world rankings on the line, expect a fast final with nothing between the podium places. 

Missing the final by a whisker was 28-year-old Matt Abood (49.13) who will take on the B final tonight which is sure to warm up the crowd for the main event. Other Aussie results were Tommaso D’Orsogna (49.18), Jayden Hadler (49.84), Ned McKendry (50.39) and Chris Wright (50.98). 

In other events… 

Women’s 100m Breaststroke

Three Aussies competed in three separate heats of the women’s 100m breaststroke at the Pan Pacs today with Commonwealth Games 200m gold medallist Taylor McKeown clocking a personal best  (1:07.48) and Lorna Tonks (1:07.51) progressing to the evening final. 

Off the back of her recent Commonwealth Games campaign where Tonks swam 1:07.34 to win the silver medal, the 25-year-old will be looking for a podium finish but McKeown, a 200m specialist, coming in as a faster Australian qualifier, will give her a run for her money. 

The pair will face strong competition from Japan and the United States with Kanako Watanabe (JPN) one of the best 100m breaststroke swimmers in the world, Olympic medallist Jessica Hardy and rising star Micah Lawrence (USA) all in the mix. 

Veteran swimmer Sally Hunter swam 1:08.13 and will miss the final but look to re-focus ahead of her more favoured 200m event. 

Men’s 100m Breaststroke

Competing at his first major international, McKeown and Tonks’ training partner 20-year-old Jake Packard rose to the occasion in the men’s 100m breaststroke to qualify for the final. The Queenslander touched the wall in 1:00.44, the fifth fastest preliminary time of the morning, a personal best time and a big confidence booster ahead of tonight’s final. 

Kevin Cordes of the USA was fastest in 59.70 while his countryman Cody Miller notably missed out on a finals spot, with a multi-national top eight featuring swimmers from Brazil, Japan, New Zealand, Canada and the USA. Spectators can look forward to the Fink and the Funk as well, with Nicolas Fink (USA) and Richard Funk (CAN) securing their finals berths. 

Women’s 400m Individual Medley 

Australia’s Keryn McMaster did everything right in her 400m IM heat this morning in her bid to win her second international medal. The 20-year-old from Brisbane was Australia’s first swimming medallist at the recent Glasgow Commonwealth Games, taking bronze in the 400m IM on the first day of competition. Just weeks later, she is now looking to get on to the podium again and will face top ranked swimmers in Elizabeth Beisel and Maya Dirado of the USA as well as some tough Japanese competition. 

Men’s 400m Individual Medley 

Off the back of his impressive 200m freestyle gold medal last night, Australia’s Thomas Fraser-Holmes did enough to qualify for the men’s 400m individual medley final tonight, touching in 4:18.41. Fraser-Holmes’ will also contest the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay while his teammate Travis Mahoney (4:19.12) will also progress in the medley final. 

The fastest times went to the Japanese duo of Kosuke Hagino and Daiya Seto respectively and the pair will be hard to beat in tonight’s final. Pushing them to the wall will be the USA’s Chase Kalisz and Tyler Clary, with all four men capable of a medal. 

4 x 200m Freestyle Relays

Tonight’s finals session will also see the men’s and women’s 4 x 200m freestyle relays where Australia and the USA will go head to head in team tactics. Don’t rule out a strong challenge from the Japanese and Canadian squads with the relay teams to be announced prior to the session commencing at 19.00 AEST tonight. 

Swimming Australia

Fraser-Holmes and Seebohm win at Pan Pacs opening night

Thomas Fraser-Holmes and Emily Seebohm produced excellent swims to be the stand-out Australians on night one of the 2014 Pan Pacs on the Gold Coast.

On a night where eight gold medals were up for grabs, the powerful Americans won four and almost achieved a world record, Australia won two gold and Japan two.

Thomas Fraser-Holmes won Australia’s first gold in a thrilling race to the wall in the men’s 200m freestyle. With nothing separating the top five swimmers over the last lap, Fraser-Holmes put the pedal down and touched out Japan’s Kosuke Hagino to finish first in 1:45.98.

“It helps to have long arms,” the 22-year-old said with a laugh. “That last lap was crazy. When I touched the wall…it was something special and something that I am really proud of.

“The Commonwealth [Games] was a big step but this was a big test, racing the Americans. I executed a good race plan tonight. I think Ryan [Lochte] had a really good last turn but I just put my head down the last 25 metres and really went for that wall.”

Advice from his coach was to do “whatever it takes” and that the race would come down to the last eight strokes.

“I didn’t breathe for the last seven strokes so I’m pretty thankful he told me that, and thankful for my long arms!”

Cameron McEvoy charged home for Australia to come away with bronze. A 100m specialist, McEvoy went out hard in the first two laps, but held on for a podium finish.

“That was actually really good,” McEvoy said, “I could see a little bit on my peripheral but I had no idea how close it was.

“We [McEvoy and Fraser-Holmes] push each other to move further and further forward in the event…we can go into it as a friendship-slash-team. We have always had great battles in the 200 freestyle, it’s always like that.”

The fastest qualifier going into the finals was Kosuke Hagino and the 20-year-old Japanese swimmer took the silver medal in 1:46.08.

The second gold of the night went to Emily Seebohm, who not only won the women’s 100m backstroke – she owned it. The only athlete to swim under a minute in the heats, Seebohm improved her time to 58.84 in the final to win gold in emphatic fashion, beating her own Pan Pacs record to boot.

Seebohm took the win ahead of teammate Belinda Hocking and USA’s Missy Franklin who has forced Seebohm to settle for silver at the last Olympics and World Championships.

“I felt pretty comfortable in that final 50 and seeing where she [Franklin] was out of the corner of my eye – it definitely gave me a bit more on that back 50 and that was exactly what I needed,” Seebohm said.

“Being in lane 4 I had a lot of pressure on me, but I was able to overcome that. I was able to come out and win the gold and that’s exactly what I wanted.

Hocking, 23, was thrilled to take home silver from the event after swimming 59.78.

“I was a little bit nervous coming into it whether my fitness would be what it was at Commies [Commonwealth Games],” she said. “That time actually beat the time I did at Commies so I’m really, really happy. It shows the confidence I had in myself to be able to get up and produce a good swim.”

The USA’s Missy Franklin took home the bronze medal in a time of 1:00.30.

Bronte Barratt was the first Aussie medallist of the night, getting the nation on the board with a silver medal in the 200m freestyle.

“I’m really happy,” Barratt said of her swim which she clocked in 1:57.22. “Obviously it wasn’t the quickest time but I’m still happy. I think I put in a quick 50 and I came home with a silver medal so I’m pretty happy.”

Diving into her home pool, Melanie Schlanger fell was unlucky to miss the podium by 0.01 of a second behind bronze medallist Shannon Vreeland of the USA (1:57.38).

Katie Ledecky of the USA proved she is the one to watch, taking gold in a new Pan Pacs record time of 1:55.74. Her teammate Missy Franklin, who hurt her back doing a backstroke start in training yesterday, contested the B final despite her injury. With the US Olympic Team using the meet as their qualification for the World Championships, Franklin needed to give her all in the swim in case her teammate Vreeland went on to swim a time in the A Final that was faster than Franklin’s 1:56.40 from Nationals. Franklin put together a great swim to win the B final in 1:56.04 and ensure her Worlds spot was safe.

With the Pan Pacs record falling three times in the heats, the men’s 100m backstroke was pegged to be one of the biggest show-downs of the first night of finals – and it didn’t disappoint.

Mitch Larkin showed he is going from strength to strength, finishing fourth in a time of 53.28. The 21-year-old Queenslander came agonisingly close to being on the podium, finishing just 0.01 seconds behind the bronze medallist.

“I guess you get that in the 100 and it’s a PB for me so I’m really happy,” Larkin said. “I’ll go back and look through the race and see any mistakes and anything I can improve on. To race these guys is great. Grevers is a guy I’ve looked up to – literally – so racing him is really wonderful.

“They are pretty different events but I’m looking forward to the 2 [200m backstroke]. That’s what I focus on and hopefully I’ll go quicker than Glasgow. It’s going to be a great race.”

Larkin’s teammate Ben Treffers was just behind him, swimming 53.84 to finish fifth.

Olympic bronze medallist Ryosuke Irie of Japan, widely considered to have the best backstroke style in the world, won the event effortlessly in 53.02. Six-time Olympic medallist Matt Grevers of the USA took silver in 53.09.

A hotly contested fast final of the men’s 1500m concluded the night with young Australians Jordan Harrison and Mack Horton confirming the strong future of distance swimming in Australia. Horton, who recently won silver in the event at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, was third in 14:52.78. At just 18 years of age, he was the youngest competitor in the top-class field that saw six swimmers go neck and neck throughout the entire race.

“I’m happy but kind of annoyed - that was probably the closest 1500 I’ve ever seen, with changing leaders every couple of laps,” Horton said after the race.

“When it is that close over that kind of distance you think if I did this little bit more I could have got over the top of them. But I guess I have to be happy with a bronze medal. I’ve raced two 1500s however many weeks ago along with 400s. So it’s tough but I have to be happy.”

Harrison, 19, also performed strongly in Glasgow to finish fourth and improved on his Commonwealth Games time tonight to finish fourth again in 14:53.65.

Connor Jaeger of the USA took out the top spot in 14:51.79 ahead of Canadian Ryan Cochrane (14:51.97).

In other events...

Women's 800m

The fast final of the women’s 800m saw two Aussies in action in Alanna Bowles and Jessica Ashwood. The pair finished sixth and eighth respectively in their heat, placing them eighth and 10th overall after faster times were recorded in the day’s previous timed final.

“It was pretty cool to be one of the youngest in the field and experience a race against the world record holder,” Bowles said. “It was a pretty cool.”

Ashwood was disappointed with her race but will use the race to push herself in the future.

“You have ups and downs in your career,” she said. “Everything can’t be great all the time and you learn a lot from some of your worst swims more than some of your great swims.”

Katie Ledecky went two-from-two, adding gold in the 800m to her earlier win in the 200m. The reigning Olympic Champion in the event, Ledecky took an unassailable early lead and was sitting inside world record pace right up until the end of the 16-lap endurance race. With three World Records to her name already this year, Ledecky wasn’t phased to just miss breaking her own record tonight.

“I wasn’t really focusing on hitting a particular time in the 800,” the 17-year-od said. “I just wanted to get through the double and see what I could do in both races. It was my first big international double and I wanted to see how I would handle it – and I’m really happy with how I handled it.”

With three individual events plus relays still to come, Ledecky is well placed to be the most versatile and successful athletes of the meet.

Women's 200m Butterfly

In the women’s 200m butterfly, Madeline Groves gained valuable international racing experience, finishing seventh in a time of 2:10.15. Groves was in talented company in the grueling race

“It was exciting to be here tonight,” the 19-year-old said after the race. “I was a bit disappointed with how I went this morning but just glad to scrape into the final there. I wasn’t really happy with my time again but I showed to show a bit of ticker going out and that was the aim so I’m happy with that.”

“I didn’t want to overthink it, I didn’t want to stress too much. I didn’t have too many expectations going into this meet. I was just trying to stay relaxed and go out there and have fun. I did that so I’m happy.”

Cammile Adams of the United States took out the race in 2:06.61 ahead of Natsumi Hoshi of Japan (2:06.68). Katie McLaughlin of the USA rounded out the medals with bronze in 2:07.08. 

Men's 200m Butterfly

Japan’s Daiya Seto soared to victory in the men’s 200m butterfly, an event that saw no Aussies in action. Seto, a medley specialist, dominated the race to take out the win in 1:54.92 ahead of Brazil’s Leonardo De Deus (1:55.28) and USA’s Tyler Clary (1:55.42).

Day 1 Heat Session wrap:

The opening session of the Pan Pacific Championships kicked off Thursday at the newly refurbished Gold Coast Aquatic Centre with the hotly contested men’s and women’s 200m freestyle. 

Having just returned from Glasgow with a record gold medal haul, the Australian Swim Team had a strong start to their Pan Pacs campaign with a total of 13 Australians swimming for gold in the evening session.  

In the women’s 200m freestyle, with the home crowd cheering her on, an in form Melanie Schlanger was the fastest Australian in the event, clocking a time of in 1:57.16. Swimming in her home pool, Schlanger cruised through the heats to qualify ahead of Bronte Barratt (1:57.65), with both athletes progressing. 

The Commonwealth Games champion in this event, Emma McKeon, easily won her heat in 1:57.87 ahead of Brittany Elmslie (1:58.35) but with only two athletes from each country making the final, neither will progress. Distance freestyler Jessica Ashwood rounded out the Aussies, placing sixth in her heat in 2:03.09, a good warm up for her 800m final later tonight. 

Katie Ledecky of the USA qualified fastest for the final, taking out the fourth heat in 1:56.45. The talented teenager will be joined in the final by her teammate, 22-year-old Shannon Vreeland (1:57.40), while Missy Franklin missed the final. 

In the corresponding men’s event, all eyes were on the battle between Australia’s Thomas Fraser-Holmes and USA’s Ryan Lochte, swimming in the last heat. 

Fraser-Holmes, who won this event in Glasgow earlier this month, edged out his more experienced rival to win in 1:46.95. The second fastest Australian was sprint specialist Cameron McEvoy, swimming a time of 1:47.08. McEvoy was up against his teammates David McKeon (1:47.45), Ned McKendry (1:48.97) and Travis Mahoney who posted a two second personal best to finish in 1:49.77. 

The fastest time of the heats went to Japan’s Kosuke Hagino, an individual medley specialist who won bronze at the 2012 London Olympic Games. 

Challenging Kosuke, Lochte and the Australians will be USA’s Conor Dwyer. The 25-year-old from Illinois won gold as part of the 4x200m relay team at the 2012 Olympics and qualified as the fastest American for tonight’s final. 

In the women’s 100m backstroke, Emily Seebohm continued her run of success from Glashow and flew through her heat to record the fastest time of 59.72, guaranteeing her the middle lane for the final. 

The Olympic silver medallist and Pan Pacs record holder in the event, will be joined by her teammate Belinda Hocking who took on Missy Franklin in the final heat. Hocking won in 1.00.46 ahead of Franklin (1.00.60) who was the fastest American. 

Elizabeth Pelton of the USA will join Franklin in the final alongside Dominique Bouchard and Hilary Caldwell of Canada who all posted competitive times. 

Brisbane’s Mitch Larkin produced a great swim to be the fastest Aussie in the men’s 100m backstroke, finishing in 53.49, just behind the might of six-time Olympic medallist Matt Grevers of the USA. In a positive sign for 21-year-old Larkin, his heat swim time was faster than his time of 53.59 which saw him win silver in the final of the recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. 

Ben Treffers made the final with his time of 54.34 while Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Josh Beaver was unlucky to miss out on the A-final as the third fastest Australian. 

The event saw some of the fastest times of the day, with Grevers grabbing a new Pac Pacs record time of 52.91. His USA teammate Ryan Murphy swam 53.24, also under the old record time, to confirm his place in the final. Japan’s Ryosuke Irie would have also broken the old record with his time of 53.29. Irie, 24, is the bronze medallist in the event from the last Olympics and will be looking for gold in tonight’s final. Expect to see the record challenged again tonight 

In other events… 

Men’s 1500m Freestyle 

In the first of two timed finals of the men’s 1500m, 2012 Olympian Jarrod Poort finished fourth in 15:23.39. Poort’s teammates Jordan Harrison and Mack Horton will swim in tonight’s fast final and will be looking to push Canadian veteran distance swimmer Ryan Cochrane for the medals. Expect to see Connor Jaeger of the USA to give the Aussie boys a challenge too. 

Women’s 200m Butterfly

Nineteen-year-old Madeline Groves from Brisbane, snuck into the final of the 200m butterfly with a time of 2:13.24. After making her major international debut in Glasgow at the Commonwealth Games, Groves will look for more race experience when she lines up in the final tonight. 

One of the youngest swimmers in the field at just 17, USA’s Katie McLaughlin clocked the fastest time of the morning with 2:08.02 ahead of her teammate Cammile Adams (2:08.22). They’ll be challenged by Canada’s Audrey Lacroix and Japan’s Natsumi Hoshi, who make up the four fastest qualifiers. 

Men’s 200m Butterfly 

Japan’s Daiya Seto was the fastest qualifier in the men’s 200m butterfly, an event that saw no Aussies in action. Seto finished in 1:55.29 ahead of Leonardo De Deus of Brazil (1:55.33) and Masato Sakai of Japan (1:55.52). Tyler Clary and Chase Kalisz were the two fastest Americans. 

Women’s 800m Freestyle 

Kareena Lee competed in the second of three timed finals in the women’s 800m freestyle. The teenager from Newcastle finished fourth in 8:39.47 and will now regroup ahead of Monday’s 10km open water event. 

The third and fastest final will take place in tonight’s finals with Junior World Champion Alanna Bowles in action alongside Olympian Jessica Ashwood. The Aussies will have their work cut out for them against USA’s Katie Ledecky who will go in hot favourite for gold. New Zealand’s Lauren Boyle and Canada’s Brittany Maclean will also challenge for the podium. 

For full results please go to http://liveresults.swimming.org.au/sal/2014PP/

Swimming Australia