GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – Kosuke Hagino claimed his fourth medal at the Pan Pacific Championships on Saturday with a silver-winning effort in the men’s 400-meter freestyle.
A day after winning the men’s 400 individual medley gold, Hagino clocked 3 minutes, 44.56 seconds at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre, a distant second to South Korean ace Park Tae-hwan.
Beijing Olympic champion Park finished over a full second clear of his Asian rival, clocking 3:43.15 for the gold. The bronze medal went to American Connor Jaeger, who timed 3:45.31. Japan’s Yuki Kobori was seventh.
“Park had a great swim and I never gave him a proper battle,” said Hagino, who also took silver in the 200 freestyle and the men’s team 4×200-meter freestyle relay.
Hagino, last year’s 400 freestyle world silver medalist, then went up against compatriot Ryosuke Irie in the men’s 200 backstroke final but could only manage eighth place. Irie took the silver medal in 1:55.14 behind American Tyler Clary (1:54.91).
Meanwhile, it’s not often that Michael Phelps gets upstaged in the pool, especially when he wins. But that’s exactly what happened on Saturday.
Phelps won his first individual gold medal at an international meet in two years to show that his comeback to swimming is gathering momentum and he is on course to add to his stockpile at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
But the greatest swimmer of all time was overshadowed by his American teammate Katie Ledecky, who smashed her own world record in the women’s 400-meter freestyle final.
Just 17 and getting better each time she dives in the water, Ledecky was in a class of her own at as she cruised to victory in 3:58.37 seconds.
She slashed almost half a second off the previous world record she set in California earlier this month, despite being under world record pace with 100 meters to go.
“It’s a good feeling,” she said in a poolside interview. “I was just racing my best time and trying to swim faster.”
Phelps won the 100m butterfly — an event he captured at three successive Olympics — in 51.29 seconds, after reaching the halfway mark in sixth place then unleashing a devastating burst.
“I guess it feels good to win again, it’s been a while,” Phelps said.
“I’m pretty happy and it sets me up for a pretty good worlds.
“What brought me back is the desire to be in the pool. It’s not that I still need it, it’s that I still want it.”
Australia’s Alicia Coutts won the women’s 100 butterfly before the host nation finished off the night by narrowly beating the U.S. to win both the men’s and women’s 4×100 freestyle relays.