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Junior Pan Pacific Championships: Jack Conger Sweeps Backstroke Events With Meet Record; Leah Smith, Noemie Thomas Down Meet Marks -- August 25, 2012

HONOLULU, Hawaii, August 25. FOR the third night in a row, some seriously fast swims went down at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center as Honolulu played host to the Junior Pan Pacific Championships. Team USA pushed its leading team tally to 322.5 points, while Australia put some space in front of Japan, 227.5 to 218, for second place. Canada looks to be a lock in fourth with 162 points, while New Zealand (37), Hong Kong (15) and Mexico (1) also have scored.

USA's Jack Conger raced to a meet record in the men's 200 back with a two-second triumph. Conger dropped the hammer in the event with a sterling effort of 1:57.20. That swim undercut the previous meet mark of 1:57.78 set by New Zealand's Gareth Kean in 2010, and bettered Conger's personal best of 1:58.14 from the U.S. Open Championships at the beginning of the month. Conger moved up to 17th in the world with that swim, and is the fourth fastest American this year behind Tyler Clary (1:53.41), Ryan Lochte (1:53.94) and Nick Thoman (1:57.06). Japan's Keita Sunama edged New Zealand's Corey Main, 1:59.57 to 1:59.67, for silver.

The win gave Conger a backstroke sweep, after he topped the 100 back on night one with a blazing 54.07. That swim topped the 17-18 U.S. National Age Group record of Aaron Peirsol (54.47) set in 2002. He has plenty to go to take down Peirsol's historic 17-18 U.S. NAG in the 200 back. Peirsol blasted a scintillating time of 1:55.15 in the distance dorsal back in 2002.


The women's 400 free featured a remarkable progression since Chelsea Chenault first set the meet record with a 4:10.79 in 2010. Leah Smith qualified with a sterling time of 4:08.08, while Chenault posted a 4:09.86 in prelims as well. Smith then dominated Chenault down the final 100 meters in the finale, adding the 400 free title to her 800 free triumph, with another meet-mark progression of 4:07.10. Chenault placed second in 4:09.24, giving her a second podium after winning the 200 free earlier in the meet. Australia's Leah Neale, meanwhile, checked in with a third-place time of 4:10.01.

Noemie Thomas of Canada first lowered the meet record in the women's 100 fly with a 58.68 in prelims. That swim edged the 2010 meet standard of 58.72 set by Japan's Rino Hosoda. Thomas' time pushed her to 36th in the world rankings this year. Thomas returned in the evening to win the finale in 59.02. Australia's Brianna Throssell claimed second in 59.36, while Hosoda placed third in 59.49. New Zealand's Sophia Batchelor rounded out the sub-1:00 times with a fourth-place 59.78. The top American finish went to Katie Kinnear, who took fifth with a 1:00.34 after posting a 59.78 in prelims.

The Aussies pulled off a 1-2 sweep in the men's 400 free as Matthew Levings dominated from the get-go with a 3:51.71. Then, teammate Mack Horton, the 1500 free victor on night one, powered by USA's Evan Pinion, 3:52.26 to 3:52.60, for second-place honors. USA's Janardan Burns wound up fourth in 3:53.26. Nicholas Caldwell's 2010 meet record of 3:50.51 held up under the pressure.

USA's Maclin Davis gave the meet record in the men's 100 fly a bit of a run with a winning time of 52.89. That swim is the first under 53 for Davis, as his previous top time had been a 53.14 at the U.S. Olympic Trials earlier this summer. He also nibbled at the outside of the top 50 in the world this year, but feel a bit off Kohei Kawamoto's 52.63 as the last in among the 50. The 52.37 meet record set by New Zealand's Daniel Bell in 2009 remained on the books. Japan's Daiya Seto, who drew a disqualification in the 400 IM behind the scorching 4:12 set by Chase Kalisz, picked up second-place honors in 53.23. USA's Matt Ellis completed the podium with a time of 53.59.

Team USA grabbed a 1-2 in the women's 200 back with Kylie Stewart challenging the meet record with her first sub-2:10 time ever. Stewart threw down a strong time of 2:09.99, just missing Sayaka Akase's 2010 meet mark of 2:09.68. Stewart's swim tonight bettered her lifetime best of 2:10.61 clocked at the 2012 Indy Grand Prix, and rocketed her to 31st in the world this year. Her teammate Kaitlyn Jones held off Japan's Kana Ozeki, 2:11.08 to 2:11.18, to give the Stars and Stripes a 1-2 finish in the event.

Team USA closed out the women's swimming for the night with a two-second triumph in the women's 400 free relay. Simone Manuel ledoff the Red, White and Blue with a meet-record time of 54.60. That swim bested her 100 free-winning time of 54.80 from earlier in the meet that was Manuel's first time under 55 seconds. Her time tonight pushed her to 40th in the world. Olivia Smoliga (55.86), Cierra Runge (55.04) and Chelsea Cheanault (55.54) then completed a winning time of 3:41.04 for the U.S. The stocked 2010 relay of Lia Neal, Jasmine Tosky, Maddy Schaefer and Chenault held onto the meet record of 3:40.97 set that year for the U.S.

Australia's Ellen O'Rourke, Alexandra Purcell, Brianna Throssell and Ami Matsuo took second in 3:43.54, while Canada's Cynthia Pammett, Victoria Chan, Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson and Paige Kremer placed third in the event with a 3:44.55 to round out the podium.

The U.S. swept the relays tonight as Matt Ellis (49.70), Jack Conger (49.37), Kyle Darmody (49.54) and Pete Brumm (50.06) raced to a time of 3:18.67 in the men's 400 free relay. That time eclipsed the meet record of 3:19.72 set by Australia in 2009. The Aussie team of Regan Leong, Alexander Graham, Hugo Morris and Andrew Digby placed second in 3:20.82, while Japan's Takeshi Kawamoto, Kenta Hirai, Toru Maruyama and Daiya Seto wound up third in 3:21.34.


Results: Junior Pan Pacs Day Three

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Jack Conger at the 2012 US Olympic Trials
Courtesy of: Peter H. Bick


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