Tokyo - America's big hitters flexed their muscles at the
Pan Pacific swimming championships Saturday as Katie Ledecky, Caeleb Dressel
and Chase Kalisz all won gold for Team USA.
Not to be outdone, hosts Japan captured two titles through
Rikako Ikee and Yui Ohashi but their American rivals continued to rule the
roost, ruthlessly signalling their intent two years out from the 2020 Olympics.
Hot favourite Ledecky stormed to victory in the women's 400m
freestyle, recording the sixth-fastest time ever to make up for the American's
disappointment in the 200m.
The five-time Olympic gold medallist flirted with her own
world record before touching in 3:58.50 with Australia's Commonwealth Games
champ Ariarne Titmus also ducking under four minutes to take silver.
"I know how to swim this race like the back of my
hand," said Ledecky, who eased to victory in the 800m freestyle earlier in
the week but was stunned by Canada's teen sensation Taylor Ruck in the 200m.
"I just took confidence from that. It didn't feel good,
the 200m, but I'm not swimming angry, I'm swimming happy."
Dressel, who last year became only the second swimmer to win
seven gold medals at a single world championships after Michael Phelps in 2007,
flexed his muscles in the men's 100m butterfly as he powered to victory in a
Pan Pacific-best 50.75.
"I was happy with that," Dressel said after
breaking Phelps's old championship record.
"I can't ask for anything more," added the
American, beaten by Australia's Kyle Chalmers in Friday's 100m freestyle final.
"I had no idea what the record was. That wasn't on my
mind - you shouldn't be racing for time, you should be racing to get your hands
on the wall first."
Fellow American Jack Conger (51.32) took silver and Brazil's
Vini Lanza (51.44) bronze.
Dressel returned to help the United States win the 4x100m
freestyle relay - only for the team to be disqualified for swimming out of
order, gifting the gold to Brazil.
Kalisz clinically completed the men's individual medley
double by bombing to gold in the 200m, once again crushing Japanese rival
Kosuke Hagino, runner-up to Phelps at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The double world champion tore it up over the second half of
the race in typical fashion to win in 1:55.40 with Australia's Mitch Larkin a
distant second and Hagino relegated to bronze.
"I was as sore as I've ever been yesterday," said
Kalisz. "But luckily things worked out in my favour today. I'm older, I'm
more mature, I got stronger."
Olympic champion Mack Horton was upset by fellow Aussie Jack
McLoughlin in the men's 400m freestyle, the surprise gold medallist clocking
3:44.20 to win by just over a tenth of a second.
Japan's swim darling Ikee triggered the biggest roar of the
night by capturing gold in the women's 100m butterfly in a championship record
American Kelsi Dahlia took silver (56.44) and Australia's
Emma McKeon bronze (56.54).
"I was shattered but I hung on and it's a big step
towards 2020," said a tearful Ikee.
"It gives me a lot of confidence to improve."
Countrywoman Ohashi completed the individual medley double
by winning the 200m title in the year's fastest time of 2:08.16 - also a meet
Meanwhile, Cate Campbell smashed her anchor leg to lead
Australia to victory in the women's 4x100m free relay in a Pan Pacs record of
The United States ended day three of the four-day meet with
11 gold medals, five more than their nearest rivals Australia.