YOKOHAMA — Before taking the team bus to Yokohama pool, American Michael Phelps went online in his hotel room and checked out a world record. Not Ian Thorpe’s, but the men’s 4×100 medley relay.

It certainly paid dividends.

In the grand finale race of the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships, the United States men’s relay team shattered the world record by .25 of a second in 3 minutes, 33.48 seconds. The first world record broken in the six-day meet capped another day of U.S. domination.

“We didn’t see any world records broken at this meet, so we decided to take care of that,” said leadoff swimmer Aaron Peirsol with a laugh.

“I actually checked out all of the split times and everything,” said Phelps, the 17-year-old who swam third in the relay and also won a gold medal in the 200 individual medley earlier Thursday. “Then we talked about it and all of us decided to go for it. We wanted it really bad.”

Not only did the gold medal end the Americans’ surreal run of 21 gold and 16 silver medals — compared to 11 and 14 for rival Australia — it ended Thorpe’s hopes for his sixth gold in the event. The Aussie star had won the event consecutive times in the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships in Fukuoka last year.

The U.S. won five of seven finals on Thursday. The final standings flip-flopped from the Fukuoka event a year ago, when the Australians came out with 13 golds to America’s nine.

In the medal standings, Japan finished a distant third with two golds and four silvers. Two of the silvers came on Thursday, with Aya Tera-kawa finishing second in the women’s 200 backstroke and Takahiro Mori second in the men’s 200 individual medley that he swam for a sidelined teammate.

Both swimmers dedicated their silvers to Japan’s top swimmer Tomoko Hagiwara, who opted out of the women’s 200 backstroke finals after suffering hyperventilation and breathing problems for the second straight day.

Hagiwara, who raced nine times in five days, was hospitalized Thursday night. Team officials said she suffered a stroke similar to one she had Wednesday five minutes prior to the opening of the final day.

“I saw her swim in so many races and collapse by the poolside (on Wednesday),” Mori said. “I felt I had to do something.”

In the final men’s relay, Thorpe gave it his best to catch up as the anchor, but could only shrink America’s 2.2-second lead to 1.44, a significant feat in itself. He denied that the last silver medal ruined the entire meet.

“That was, probably of all, my best swim (in this meet),” said Thorpe, who clocked a personal-best 47.20 in a relay freestyle. “My intention isn’t to get any number of medals. I try and compete against myself and I was able to do that.”

The U.S. team also denied that it was aiming to break Thorpe’s run.

“We weren’t trying to take anything away from him. You just can’t give the guy a free pitch to hit his 80th home run, right?” said Peirsol, trying to find an analogy. “You’ve got to give the guy a run for his money.”

The Aussies saved some pride on the last day. In the men’s 1,500 freestyle, Grant Hackett finished far ahead of a pair of Americans in 14:41.65 — a championship record.

The Australian women’s team also beat the U.S. in the 4×100 relay with a last-second spurt in 4:00.50, .25 of a second ahead of the Americans. Canada finished third and the Japanese followed in fourth.

Aside from the final race, Natalie Coughlin of the U.S. continued to steal the spotlight, winning her fourth gold medal with a victory in the 100 freestyle.

Coughlin was shocked at the championship-record time she set in the 100 free of 53.99.

“Oh my God, I am so surprised,” said Coughlin, who cut her personal best by more than half a second. “To (break) it by that much is incredible.”

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