Lochte shines on stellar night for US at Pan Pacs

Updated: Aug 20, 2010, 13:48 PM IST

New York: World champion Ryan Lochte of the United States delivered the performance of the evening to win the men`s 400 metres individual medley at the Pan Pacific Championships on Thursday.

With Michael Phelps having failed to qualify for the final earlier in the day, Lochte swam under world record time for the first two legs of the energy-sapping race before surging home in four minutes, 7.59 seconds.

Compatriot Tyler Clary touched second in 4:09.55 with Brazil`s Thiago Pereira third in 4:12.09 at the William Woolett Jr. Aquatics Center.

Lochte, who clinched the world title last year in Rome where Phelps notably skipped the event, began the race with a storming display over the butterfly and backstroke legs before falling off the pace in the breaststroke.

"I just went out fast and tried to hold on for dear life," the 26-year-old told reporters on a night when the United States won seven of 10 finals.

"I`m just going out there, having fun and racing. Whatever the outcome is, I`ll take it."

World record holder Phelps failed to qualify from his heat earlier on Thursday after competing in the event for the first time since the 2008 Olympics.

Although the multiple Olympic gold medallist was fourth-fastest in the morning heats, he was beaten by Lochte and Tyler. Only two swimmers from each country were allowed to compete in the eight-man final.

American Nathan Adrian won a close battle for the men`s 100 freestyle, powering to the finish in a Pan Pac record time of 48.15 seconds, while compatriot Rebecca Soni produced the third fastest time ever in the women`s 100 breaststroke.

"You`re putting every ounce of effort you have into that last bit," said Adrian, who was in fourth place at the turn before surging to the front to clock the world`s fastest time this year.

Canada`s Brent Hayden was second in 48.19 with Brazil`s world record holder Cesar Cielo third in 48.48.

"I did a good job of swimming my own race and not letting what everybody else was doing affect me," added Adrian. "It was time for me to step up internationally."

Scraped Through

World champion Cesar, who scraped through into the final in lane eight after other countries had reached their two-man limit, led after the first 50 before being overhauled.

"I wasn`t thinking about medals," the Brazilian said. "I didn`t feel I deserved to be in the final.”

Soni held off Australian veteran Liesel Jones in the women`s breaststroke with a Pan Pac record time of 1:04.93.

Triple Olympic gold medallist Jones, who put on a strong late surge, was second in 1:05.66 with fellow Australian Sarah Katsoulis third in 1:07.04.

"I couldn`t have asked for it to go better," a smiling Soni said. "After the turn, I knew we were right together so I just tried to look in my own lane and sprint to the end."

Japan`s quadruple gold medallist Kosuke Kitajima won the men`s 100 breaststroke with a time of 59.35 seconds, having also dipped under one minute in the morning heats.

"It was great I was able to swim two races today in under one minute," Kitajima said through an interpreter. "I have been living in LA since last April so I am really happy to win here."

American Natalie Coughlin triumphed in the women`s 100 freestyle for a third successive time at the Pan Pacs while Australia`s Sophie Edington stormed to victory in the women`s 50 backstroke in a meet record time of 27.83 seconds.

The United States capped a highly successful night by winning the men`s and women`s 4x200 freestyle relays, both of them with Pan Pac record times.

Phelps gave the men`s team a healthy lead of 1.46 seconds after the opening leg and Lochte stormed home in the anchor leg to give the United States an overall winning time of 7:03.84.

"For that race, you always want to get in open water," said Phelps. "I got as much space for those guys as I could. I just wanted to separate myself.”

"This is our relay team from 2008 and we have always swum well together."

Bureau Report