US dominates Pan Pacific swimming championships

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> The clash for swimming supremacy was settled Thursday on the final night of the Pan Pacific swimming championships when American swimmers won five gold medals a

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:28 IST
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In the end, it wasn't even close. The clash for swimming supremacy was settled Thursday on the final night of the Pan Pacific swimming championships when American swimmers won five gold medals and threw in a world record for good measure. The United States ended the meet with 21 golds to 11 for Australia, maintaining its unblemished record of winning the most medals and gold medals since the inception of the Pan Pacific championships in 1985. Capping a dominating performance, the US team of Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen, Michael Phelps and Jason Lezak clocked a world record 3 minutes, 33.48 to win the medley relay, eclipsing the previous mark of 3:33.73 set by the American team in 2000. "It was a great way to end the meet. Everyone stood up and did his part and you couldn't have asked for a better finish," said Peirsol. The Americans avenged their second place in the gold medal count at last year's worlds at Fukuoka, Japan, where the Australians won 13 gold against nine for the United States. "I think it settles the question of who was better this week. But I don't want to get into debates about who is best," said Dennis Pursley, the director of US swimming. Remove the five gold medals won by Ian Thorpe and four by Grant Hackett and the meet was a bit of a disappointment for an Australian team that arrived here brimming with confidence after claiming 27 gold, 13 silver and eight bronze across 42 events at the Commonwealth Games last month. Instead, it was the Americans who quietly went about their business in the absence of high-profile stars like Lenny Krayzelburg and Gary Hall Jr. But few among the U.S. team were about to write Aussies off. "There's no doubt the rivalry helps. It brings out the best in our team and I'm sure it does the same for the Australians. The cards seemed to fall in our favor this week and I wouldn't be surprised if the Australians came back stronger next time," said Pursley. "Our rivalry isn't a short term thing. We still have to worry about them a lot," said Ian Crocker, who won the 100 m butterfly gold. Thorpe won two of his five gold medals on the opening night when Australia took four out five on offer and looked poised to upstage the Americans once again. But it wasn't to be. The United States stormed back with four gold medals on Sunday and never looked back. Natalie Coughlin was the shining star for the Americans. The native of Concord, California, won the 100-meter freestyle final in 53.99 seconds Thursday to collect her fourth gold medal of the meet. Together with her championship record in the 100 free, she won the 100 backstroke and the 100 butterfly at the Pan Pacific. Coughlin also led off for the winning women's 4x200 freestyle relay team and got silver medals in the 4x100 freestyle and the 4x100 medley relays. The Australians were only missing Michael Klim, who owns the world record in the 100 butterfly, and were expecting better things in Yokohama. Thorpe held up his end of the deal and was his usual dominant self, winning every individual event he event he entered. Although for the first time at a major international meet since the last Pan Pacific at Sydney in 1999, he didn't set a world record. Australia's Geoff Huegill, the world champion and record holder in the 50 butterfly, finished second in the 100 butterfly Thursday and said he wasn't disappointed. (AP)

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