Brooke Bennett claimed her second gold medal of the Championships by winning the 400 freestyle in 4:10.46. "I knew I had to take it out strong," she said, "I went for it tonight and I took it out fast and just tried to hold that pace."
Brooke Bennett of the USA on her way to her second gold medal in the Pan Pacific Games in the 400m free.
For larger 72k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa
Trina Jackson, also of the USA, took the silver in 4:11.04, chalking up another one-two finish for the Americans. On the absence of distance queen Janet Evans, she commented, "We are swimming against the bodies next to us, not the names. She does hold the world record, but we wish the media would stop talking about her." Hayley Lewis of Australia found herself relegated to the bronze medal with her time of 4:11.26.
Canada's Nikki Dryden finished 8th in 4:16.23.
It was the battle of down under once again in the 400 freestyle, but Daniel Kowalski's (AUS) usual rival was missing from the final. Kieren Perkins had failed to make the final in the morning, proving he was definitely having an off meet. Instead it was Danyon Loader (NZL) who muscled it out with Kowalski. Kowalski held on to his winning streak and managed to touch out Loader, once again in a very close finish: 3:50.01 for the gold and 3:50.11 for the silver.
"I've never felt this bad at a meet," said Kowalski afterward. "I'm so tired and I'm finding it hard to recover. The heat swim was really hard this morning...but I've had a great meet so I can't complain."
Third place went to Chad Carvin (USA) in 3:50.47 - a close race indeed. Perkins meanwhile swam the consolation final and redeemed himself somewhat, winning it in a time that would have finished third overall (3:50.26). "I'm happy with it," he said, "My heat swim this morning wasn't fantastic and obviously I was disappointed not to be in the final, but I had a second chance in the B final. I wanted to make a good showing of it and let everyone know that I'm still around, and give myself a bit of a boost for the 1500 tomorrow night."
Dave McClellan of Canada finished 8th with a time of 3:59.26.
Another night of Aussie revelry was in store when Susan O'Neill completed her sweep of the butterfly events, winning the 100 in 59.58, the fastest time in the world this year. The shocker came when she was subsequently disqualified for a "shoulder dip." Not willing to stand for another unjust call, the Aussie team protested immediately, leaving everyone on deck in an uproar, uncertain as to who the medalists were.
In the end O'Neill was reinstated, no doubt benefitting from the fact that the Jury of Appeals now contained members of all the charter nations. O'Neill said afterward, "I don't usually pay a lot of attention to rules, I just race. I couldn't believe it was happening. I thought they may be out for my team (Australia) after what happened with Samantha." She also indicated that she thought the officials in Atlanta were overzealous, "They are bordering on ridiculous. You can hardly do anything or go anywhere. It is very strict." The hullabaloo over and done with, the other medalists could relax. The silver medal went to Jenny Thompson of the USA in 59.83.
Jessica Amey of Canada won the bronze medal and set a Canadian record in a time of 1:00.24. For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa
Jessica Amey of Canada had a great day, breaking her own Canadian record in the morning heats (1:00.52), and coming back to break it again in the evening and secure herself the bronze medal. Her time of 1:00.24 just missed making the preselection time for the Olympics, but Amey felt that it was a good race anyway, saying, "I'm only 3/100 of a second off. Last time I missed the Olympic team by 6/100, so at least I'm cutting down the margin!"
Sarah Evanetz of Canada was also a finalist, finishing 7th in 1:01.42, a personal best.
Scott Miller of Australia wasn't about to let the confusion of the women's 100 fly affect him. Instead he went out to prove yet again that the Aussies meant business in Atlanta. Setting himself up beautifully for next year, he won the event in 53.07, bettering his own Pan Pacific record of 53.20 set in the morning heats.
The silver went to Mark Henderson of the USA in 53:69, while Adam Pine, also of Australia, took the bronze in 54:02. Melvin Stewart of the USA was 4th in 54.3, and Eddie Parenti of Canada was 6th in 54:57.
Nicole Stevenson took full advantage of the Australian wave to win the 200 backstroke in 2:11.26 ahead of Japan's Noriko Inada. Stevenson, who had gone into the finals in 6th place, was ecstatic with the win. "I can't believe I won that!" she laughed, "I felt so bad this morning. I can't believe I did that!"
Stevenson, suffering from a head cold all week, had not won this event at the Pan Pacs for eight years. It was the third fastest time of her career.
Tripp Schwenk of the USA off the wall quickly and on his way to winning the 200m backstroke in games record time of 1:58.87.
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa
Inada's time of 2:11.54 was a new Japanese national record. The bronze medal went to Whitney Hedgepeth of the USA in 2:11.95.
Tripp Schwenk of the USA took no prisoners in the 200 backstroke, winning the event in 1:58.87, a new Pan Pacific record. "A win is a win," he said, "It feels good. It's my first Pan Pac win and I would have liked to be a little faster, but a race is a race." When asked what he thought of the venue in Atlanta he said, "I think it's a huge advantage for us and everybody that is swimming here. It's a great facility, especially for backstroke because of the roof."
Nicole Stevenson on her way to winning the women's 200m backstroke.
For larger 56k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa
His teammate Tom Dolan demonstrated his versatility by winning the silver in 2:00.18. Japan's Ryuji Horii was third in 2:00.56.
Canada's Chris Renaud had gone into the race seeded second (2:00.96), only to finish a disappointing 5th with a time of 2:01.18.
The US was resuscitated after Schwenk's 200 backstroke victory and the women's 400 freestyle relay swam it's way to yet another Pan Pacific record. The team of Amy van Dyken (55.76), Angel Martino (55.58), Melanie Valerio (55.55), and Jenny Thompson (54.70) put it together to finish in 3:41.59.
Australia was second in 3:42.99, while Japan outswam Canada for the bronze in 3:44.89. Both teams set new national records. Canada was 4th in 3:46.82.
It's called saving the best for last.
What could almost have ended up as another humdrum evening for the United States was transformed in 3:15.11, the time it took for David Fox (49.32), Joe Hudepohl (49.11), Jon Olsen (48.17), and Gary Hall Jr. (48.51) to inscribe their names on the most coveted list.
Indeed the playing of the "Star Spangled Banner" after the 200 backstroke must have done the trick, because the American relay brought on the fireworks with a fabulous new world record.
Olsen, who had the fastest split, said, "We've been thinking about this one for a long time. That record was seven years old; it was time to do it and this was the perfect team to do it. 3:15.9 was our goal and 3:15.11 was out of control. During the first 50 of my leg, I talked to myself and said,"Calm down, don't get out of control!"
A jubilant Hall added, "I felt the energy from the crowd. I went all out on the first 50, and I had to be careful because I wanted to be there coming home."
American relay members David Fox, Gary Hall, Jon Olsen and Joe Hudepohl celebrate after shattering the world record in the 4x100m free relay with a time of 3:15.11.
For larger 56k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa
While the fingers pointed triumphantly in the air for the Americans, there was cause for joy in the Aussie camp as well. The second-place team clocked a time of 3:19.67, setting two Commonwealth and national records in the process.
Lead-off Chris Fydler broke the Commonwealth 100 m freestyle record with his split of 49.72. He said, "This is the first time we've all swum under 50 seconds, so it was our best opportunity to break the record...I had David (Fox) swimming next to me, who was flying. I thought I wasn't swimming very well. When I saw it was a 49.72, I was wrapped. I knew I had set the Commonwealth record and that we had a shot at breaking the relay record as well."
Third place went to New Zealand with a time of 3:21.52, also a new national record. Canada finished out of the medals and to add to the misery were disqualified.