YOKOHAMA — Sachiko Yamada had the home crowd screaming their lungs out. Same with Ian Thorpe, who proved he was fastest regardless of length.
And, quietly, the Americans continued to dominate the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships.
“I think we’re doing awesome,” said Amanda Beard, who won the gold in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke in 2 minutes, 26.31 seconds. Of the five finals on Wednesday at the Yokohama pool, the U.S. took four first places to increase its gold medal count to 16.
What got the crowd excited was Yamada’s late-spurt in the women’s 800 freestyle final, the most heated of Wednesday’s races.
Although she couldn’t reach American Diana Munz, who finished ahead of the pack at 8:30.45, Yamada gradually caught up on U.S. youngster Hayley Peirsol and passed her in the final few meters for second place in 8:31.89, shaving .07 seconds off of her own Japan record.
“I was surprised when I heard the time later,” said Yamada, who took her fourth medal of the meet later in the evening in the 4×200 freestyle relay. “I’m very satisfied with the race. I could hear everybody cheering me on, and I was able to push myself one last time.”
The Australians settled for one gold from Thorpe in the men’s 100 freestyle final to make it nine after the fifth day of the event. He will anchor the 4×100 medley relay on Thursday, the final day, and aim for his sixth gold of the PanPacs.
In the final, Thorpe got off to a rather poor start and turned after the first 50 meters in fourth place before making a charge in the final 20 meters to clock 48.84 for first place. Countryman Ashley Callus also made a late-spurt to come in second at 49.26, followed by American Nate Dusing, who led the first half of the race, at 49.47.
“It was very close to my best time,” said Thorpe, who swam a personal best 48.73 seconds in the 2002 Commonwealth Games. “I’m really happy with the way I raced this evening.”
En route to another dominating day, the Americans also set four course records. The U.S. women’s 4×200 freestyle relay team wrapped up the day downing Australia in 7:56.96.
Aaron Peirsol watched her sister, Hayley, lose to Yamada immediately before he took the pool for the 200 backstroke final.
It was enough motivation for him to shoot for the gold.
“Yeah, I thought about that, but I wanted a medal,” said Peirsol, who was chosen as the day’s MVP after winning the final in 1:56.88. “But she’s still young and has a big future in front of her.”
Hagiwara passes out
Tomoko Hagiwara lost consciousness after topping her semifinal heat of the 200-meter backstroke and was carried away on a stretcher at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships on Wednesday.
Hagiwara, who won the gold in the 200 individual medley on Monday withdrew from the women’s 4×200 freestyle relay held later on Wednesday.
The 22-year-old was carried to the medical room on a stretcher at Yokohama International Pool, but Japanese swimming officials said her condition is not serious.
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