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Koseki leads Japan to gold

Kyodo, AP

Pan Pacific Championships

Yasuhiro Koseki added to Japan’s gold medal haul with victory in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke in his first major international competition Friday at the Pan Pacific Championships.

A day after finishing second in the men’s 200 freestyle, Kosuke Hagino also emerged victorious in the men’s 400 individual medley to take Japan’s gold total to four after two days of action at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre.

Koseki overtook Brazil’s Felipe da Silva and powered through the last five meters to touch the wall in 59.62 seconds. Silva clocked 59.82 for silver and New Zealand’s Glenn Snyders won the bronze in 1:00.18.

“I knew it would be a close race and swam with that in mind in the first half,” said the 188-cm Koseki. “I was totally absorbed in the last five meters and wasn’t aware of who was swimming beside me. I am pleased to win.”

Koseki’s gold was Japan’s third of the meet after victories by Ryosuke Irie in the men’s 100 backstroke and Daiya Seto in the men’s 200 butterfly.

“Yesterday Irie and Seto won gold medals and I wanted to ride on the crest of that wave,” said Koseki.

In the men’s 400 IM, Hagino eased to victory with a time of 4 minutes, 8.31 seconds. Tyler Clary was second in 4:09.03 and fellow American Chase Kalisz was third in 4:09.62. Seto could only manage fifth.

“I felt good in the heats and tried hard to win the gold medal, but I am a little bit disappointed because I wanted my time to be a little better,” said Hagino.

Hagino went on to take his third medal here as Japan’s men took silver in the men’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay, won by the United States.

In women’s races, Japan’s Kanako Watanabe took the 100 breaststroke silver in 1:06.78, just behind American Jessica Hardy (1:06.74).

Meanwhile, Michael Phelps placed fourth in his first international final since coming out of retirement, with Cameron McEvoy upstaging the most decorated swimmer of all time to take the 100-meter freestyle title.

The 20-year-old McEvoy of Australia won in 47.82 seconds in rainy conditions at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre’s outdoor pool, edging Olympic champion Nathan Adrian of the U.S. into second place at 48.30 and world champion James Magnussen into third at 48.36.

“What more could I ask for?” McEvoy said. “I just felt great the whole way. It was an honor to be in a race with such great men — so much those guys have accomplished. It’s just good to be there.”

Adrian said he wasn’t surprised by McEvoy’s win, saying competition is intense in the 100 freestyle.

“It’s silly to think that it’s just going to be James and I winning every time,” he said. “It’s definitely not a two-man game anymore.”