TOKYO: Five-time Olympic gold medallist Katie Ledecky beat one resurgent teenager but lost to another on a dramatic first day of the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships on Thursday.
The American comfortably held off Australia’s Ariarne Titmus to set a championship record in the 800 metres freestyle and win the opening race before 18-year-old Canadian Taylor Ruck set a meet record to beat Ledecky who finished third in the 200.
All eyes were on Ledecky and she did not disappoint in her first race as she opened up the championships with a scorching race in the women’s 800m freestyle to win in a time of 8:09:13. Titmus, the Commonwealth champion, was a distant second almost eight seconds back with American Leah Smith third in 8:17.21.
But Ruck stole Ledecky’s thunder in the 200m freestyle, dominating from the start to win in a Pan Pacific record 1:54.44, just ahead of Japanese rival Rikako Ikee. Ledecky was third in 1:55.15.
Compatriot Lilly King held off a late charge from Australian Jessica Hansen to win the women’s 100m breaststroke gold and maintain her dominance of the event. The double Olympic champion is the world record holder and has not lost a 100m event since 2015.
Host nation Japan won twice. Yasuhiro Koseki took the men’s 100m breaststroke, and Yui Ohashi won the women’s 400m individual medley.
Australia’s sole victory was in the mixed medley relay. China have sent fewer swimmers and is focusing instead on the Asian Games later this month in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Other American winners included Jordan Wilimovsky in the 1,500m, Townley Hass in the 200m freestyle, and Chase Kalisz in the men’s 400m individual medley. He beat out Olympic champion Kosuke Hagino and Rio bronze medalist Daiya Seto. Kalisz took silver in Rio.
The Pan Pacs are being held in the Tatsumi International Swimming Centre, which will be used for water polo at the next Olympics. A new aquatic center is about 35 percent complete, located just a short walk away.
Published in Dawn, August 10th, 2018