Pan Pacific Notes

U.S. Team Enjoys a Night of Gold And Silver

By Amy Shipley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 19, 2006

VICTORIA, B.C., Aug. 18 -- The United States continued its domination at the Pan Pacific Championships Friday night, winning gold, silver or both in each of the six individual finals contested and gold in both 4x200-meter relays to further establish itself as the nation to beat at the 2008 Summer Games.

U.S. swimmers won 12 of the 16 gold and silver individual medals distributed, largely silencing swimming powers Japan and Australia, both of which had strong showings on the opening night of the competition Thursday.

Michael Phelps and Katie Hoff both won their second and third gold medals of the championships with victories in the 400-meter individual medley and the relays. In the medley, Towson's Hoff finished in a course record 4 minutes 36.82 seconds, easily beating fellow American Ariana Kukors (4:39.68).

Just over 30 minutes later, Hoff swam the last leg of the relay for the U.S. women, who finished in a course record (7:54.62) but did not challenge the world record set this month by Germany.

"We really came together as a team," Hoff said. "We've had some great swims out there, and I'm really excited to be a part of that."

Phelps, who set a world record in the 200 butterfly Thursday, obliterated the field in the medley but did not lower his world record in the event. His time of 4:10.47 was more than three seconds ahead of second-place American Robert Margalis (4:13.85).

Shortly after the race, Phelps led off the men's relay with a first leg .20 of a second under world-record pace.

The U.S. team stayed under the five-year-old record held by an Ian Thorpe-led Australian team until Klete Keller faded over the last 50 meters. The men finished in 7:05.28, missing the record by .62 of a second.

The United States also claimed first and second in the women's 100 freestyle (Natalie Coughlin's 53.87 was her second-best time ever; American Amanda Weir posted a 53.92) and women's 100 breaststroke (Tara Kirk, 1:07.56; Megan Jendrick, 1:07.58).

"I love," Kirk said, "standing on top of the podium."

Hansen Wants Perfection

U.S. swimmer Brendan Hansen has been swimming so well lately he won the gold medal in the 100 breaststroke in course-record time and looked positively disgusted with himself after the race.

Hansen said he could have knocked more than a half second off of his winning time if he hadn't made "age-group mistakes" such as rushing his stroke. Hansen's time of 59.90 gave him an easy victory over Australia's Brenton Rickard (1:00.39) and Japan's Kosuke Kitajima (1:00.90) but it fell short of his world record (59.13).

"I made a few mistakes early in the race that cost me," Hansen said. "No matter how good you are, how good you get, you always make mistake. I've got to find a way to fix them."

© 2006 The Washington Post Company