HONOLULU, Hawaii, August 26. WHILE there was a smattering of swift swims throughout the first three evenings at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships, the assembled swimmers decided to leave everything at the pool with a barrage of jaw-dropping swims to conclude pool swimming at the meet
In the men's 200 breast, Japan's Akihiro Yamaguchi solidified himself as the top breaststroker ever to grace this meet. Two years ago, he already set the meet record in the 200 with a 2:13.43. This morning, he blasted a 2:10.44 to lower that meet record. He followed that up in the finale with a scorching time of 2:08.03, just off his third-ranked time of 2:07.84 from the Japanese High School Championships. His time this evening is the 15th-fastest all time, while just missing Eric Shanteau's U.S. Open record of 2:08.01 set in Indianapolis in 2009. His teammate Kazuki Kohinata finished second in 2:13.13, while USA's Eric Ronda wound up third in 2:13.89.
Shanteau was paying attention as he retweeted Swimming World's live tweet about the swim stating “Well that was close.”
Earlier in the meet, Yamaguchi became the first Junior Pan Pac swimmer to ever clear 1:00 in the 100 breast with a 59.85 for the win. That swim came up short of his Japanese High School record time of 59.56 set earlier this month. Yamaguchi's swims this summer demonstrate just how quick the torch can be passed. Heading into the 2012 London Olympics, the swimming world wondered is Kosuke Kitajima could pull off a pair of threepeats in the 100 and 200 breast. After missing out on those feats, Kitajima not only has veteran Ryo Tateishi on his heels in both events, he also has Yamaguchi surpassing him in the 200 breast this year.
Yamaguchi also produced an awe-inspiring breaststroke split with a 59.55 to lead Japan to the 400 medley relay victory. Japan crushed the field with a meet record in the men's event. Takeshi Kawamoto (55.35), Yamaguchi (59.55), Seto (53.21) and Kenta Hirai (49.56) put together a smoking-fast time of 3:37.67. Yamaguchi went into the water with less than half-a-second to make up as Kawamoto did enough to stay close to USA's Jack Conger on the backstroke leg. Yamaguchi then blew the door open with a split a full three seconds faster than the field. USA's Conger (54.93), Will Licon (1:02.86), Maclin Davis (52.66) and Matt Ellis (48.92) wound up taking second in 3:39.37, while Australia's Regan Leong, Buster Sykes, David Morgan and Alexander Graham finished third in 3:44.03.
USA's Becca Mann also put together a special swim this evening, downing a 28-year-old U.S. National Age Group record for the 13-14 age division in the 1500 free. Michele Richardson originally set the record back in 1984 with an ahead-of-her-time performance of 16:12.57. Tonight, Mann, 14, raced to victory in 16:11.98, blasting her previous personal best of 16:14.41 from the U.S. Open earlier this month. Mann shot to fifth in the world in the event this year, although most of the female distance swimmers were focused on the Olympic 800-meter distance this year. All-time, Mann shot to 36th, just behind a 16:11.97 clocked by Tiffany Cohen back in 1983. USA's Danielle Valley provided the Stars and Stripes a 1-2 with a 16:26.93 for second, while Australia's Laura Crockart took third in 16:30.82 out of the early heat.
Incidentally, Mann's time also bested the meet record of 16:18.12 set by Stephanie Williams of Austrlaia back in 2005. Mann added gold to her resume from this meet after taking silver behind Leah Smith in the 800 free on night one.
USA's Jack Conger earned his third individual crown of the meet with a blazing time of 22.69 in the men's 50 free. During prelims, he clocked a 22.72 for his first time under 23 seconds, as his previous personal best had been a 23.23 from the 2012 NCSA Junior National Championships in March. With his time tonight, he moved within striking distance of the top 50 in the world. Andrew Abood and Lucio Spadaro hold that spot with matching 22.34s from earlier this year. Australia's Regan Leong took second tonight in 23.02, while USA's Erik Risolvato snared third in 23.17.
Conger added tonight's win to his two previous individual triumphs. During night one, he set the 17-18 U.S. National Age Group record in the 100 back with a 54.07. That swim surpassed Aaron Peirsol's 54.47 from 2002. Conger then swept the backstroke events with a 1:57.20 in the men's 200 back to lower the meet record. He also helped the men's 400 free relay to a triumphant meet-record 3:18.67 with a 49.37 split.
USA's Chase Kalisz threw down another epic effort, this time leading to an IM sweep at the meet. Kalisz utilized a remarkable breaststroke leg of 33.42 to wind up with a 1:59.51 for the men's 200 IM triumph. That swim cleared the meet record of 2:00.61 set by David Nolan of the U.S. back in 2010, and bettered Kalisz' lifetime best of 1:59.66 from U.S. Olympic Trials earlier this summer. Tonight's effort jumped him from 28th in the world rankings to 25th, just clipping Kenneth To's 1:59.57 for a top-25 spot. Japan's Daiya Seto also undercut the previous meet record with a 2:00.33, while his compatriot Keita Sunama matched the previous mark with a 2:00.61.
The win gave Kalisz an IM sweep for the meet, having already turned in a stunning time of 4:12.59 in the men's 400 IM. That swim shot him up to 14th in the world rankings, and put him in strong position for a 2013 Worlds berth with Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps both out of the 400 IM going forward. In the 200 IM, Kalisz is the fourth-fastest American this year behind Phelps (1:54.27), Lochte (1:54.90) and Conor Dwyer (1:58.32). He jumped ahead of Austin Surhoff (1:59.58) tonight.
Australia's Matt Levings added the men's 800 free title to his 400 free victory from earlier in the meet. This evening, he crushed the field in the distance event with a dominant 7:56.94. That swim cut nearly two seconds from Ryan Napoleon's 2009 record of 7:58.66, and pushed Levings to 14th in the world rankings in the non-Olympic event. He jumped ahead of David McKeon (7:57.22) to be the top Aussie in the event this year. Canada's William Brothers placed second in 7:59.69, while Japan's Shogo Takeda snagged third in 8:00.43.
Canada earned another 1-2 sweep in the women's breaststroke events. After Kierra Smith (1:08.54) and Mariya Chekanovych (1:08.55) had a barnburner finish in the 100 on Friday night, the two provided Canada with another strong effort in the 200. Smith (2:25.78) and Chekanovych (2:25.96) both surpassed the 200 breast meet record of 2:26.47 set by Rebecca Kemp of Australia in 2010. Smith trumped her 37th-ranked time of 2:26.73 to jump to 26th in the world, while Chekanovych now stands 31st in the world rankings with her swim. USA's Annie Zhu rounded out the podium with a third-place time of 2:26.65, crushing her previous top time of 2:27.23 from the U.S. Olympic Trials this summer.
Canada's Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson threw down a dominant freestyle leg to capture the women's 200 IM title in 2:12.93. That swim vaulted her to 30th overall in the world this year, which cut more than a second off her seed time of 2:13.94 heading into the meet. She nearly became the fastest Canadian this year, trailing only Julia Wilkinson (2:12.78) from Canadian Trials. Seltenreich-Hodgson did surpass Erica Morningstar (2:12.99) as the second-best Canadian this year.
Japan's Chihiro Igarashi placed second in 2:14.04, while USA's Celina Li snared third in 2:14.16. Li had the chance to compete in the finale after Annie Zhu, who qualified fifth, scratched to pull Li in as the second American. Kaitlyn Jones of the U.S., who led qualifying in 2:14.75, placed fourth in 2:14.31. Dagny Knutson's 2:10.79 from 2009 remained in the books as the meet standard.
Australia's Alexandra Purcell dominated the women's 50 free with a triumphant time of 25.15, just missing her 28th-ranked best from Trials of 25.05. USA's Olivia Smoliga snared second in 25.39, cutting time from her preliminary effort of 25.78. Her performance tonight undercut her lifetime best of 25.66 set at the U.S. Olympic Trials earlier this summer. Australia's Ellen O'Rourke gave her country a 1-3 finish in the splash-and-dash with a 25.40. USA's Simone Manuel just missed the podium with a 25.45 after winning the 100 free in 54.80 earlier in the meet. Yolane Kukla's meet record of 24.74 from 2010 held up to the pressure.
The 400 medley relays closed out the evening, and pool swimming at this meet. USA's Olivia Smoliga (1:01.70), Annie Zhu (1:08.44), Katie Kinnear (59.58) and Simone Manuel (54.21) held off a game Canadian squad with a near-meet record time of 4:03.93. Canada's Sydney Pickrem (1:02.65), Kierra Smith (1:08.62), Noemie Thomas (58.89) and Victoria Chan (55.51) placed second in 4:05.67. Japan's Maho Tsujimoto, Miku Kanasahsi, Rino Hosoda and Mao Kawakami earned third in 4:07.22.
Heading into tomorrow's open water 10K events, Team USA holds an insurmountable team tally of 449.5 points. Australia leads Japan by just 1.5 points, 318.5 to 317 points, while Canada will take fourth with 243 points. New Zealand (54), Hong Kong (23) and Mexico (1) placed fifth through seventh.