GOLD COAST, Australia – Canada won two medals as the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships opened on a chilly Thursday evening in Gold Coast, Australia.
Brittany MacLean of Etobicoke, Ont., continued her outstanding 2014, once again lowering her national record to win bronze in the 800-metre freestyle. MacLean’s time of 8:20.02 was good for third place in the 16-lap race behind American Katie Ledecky and New Zealand’s Lauren Boyle.
It’s the second Canadian record in less than a month for MacLean, whose previous best of 8:20.91 won her bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
“I’ve never done two events at such a high level back to back like this and I’ve also never really swam outside in this kind of cold and this late at night,” MacLean said. “I was really happy with the way it went at Commonwealths and I loved getting to stand on the podium so that was my big goal coming into tonight. For me to go a best time and new Canadian record is even better, I can’t ask for more.”
Ryan Cochrane of the Swimming Canada High Performance Centre – Victoria, meanwhile, capped the evening with a silver medal in the men’s 1,500-m freestyle. The defending champion in the event, fresh off a gold medal at Commonwealth Games, was out-touched by 0.18 seconds as American Connor Jaeger took the gold.
Cochrane turned in a time of 14:51.97 in what was a six-way race for most of the way, with the top four finishers less than two seconds apart.
“I hate to lose. It’s always great to hit the international podium but after a race like that where it’s so close, there’s little things you can do better and I’ll be out for blood the rest of the weekend,” Cochrane said.
Canada had two finalists in both the men’s and women’s 200-m butterfly. On the women’s side Commonwealth Games gold medallist Audrey Lacroix was fifth in 2:08.81, while fellow Pont-Rouge, Que., native Katerine Savard came sixth at 2:09.42.
Meanwhile in men’s action Mack Darragh swam a personal best of 1:58.52 for sixth place, while Gamal Assaad was seventh in 2:02.99.
The women’s 200-m backstroke was also a two-finalist event for Canada. Dominique Bouchard came fifth with a lifetime best of 1:00.82, just ahead of Hilary Caldwell (6th, 1:00.99)
In women’s 200-m freestyle, Samantha Cheverton of Montreal finished fifth at 1:58.96.
Pan Pacs also features B finals. Alyson Ackman of Montreal, who narrowly missed the A final in the women’s 200-m freestyle, made the most of her second swim with a personal best of 1:59.25, good for 12th overall.
Swimming Canada High Performance Director John Atkinson was pleased the Canadian team didn’t allow the cold temperatures to be an excuse or a distraction.
“It was a solid evening’s performance with 10 out of the 12 swimmers who were in the morning heats improving their time from this morning. I think that shows that the team really rallied and prepared well for the conditions,” Atkinson said.
“Brittany MacLean had a tremendous swim tonight swimming faster than she did at the Commonwealth Games, in fact swimming a negative split so a really strong second half to her swim for another Canadian record and a bronze medal,” Atkinson added. “For Ryan Cochrane it was a big double to back up from Commonwealth Games where he won the 1,500-m freestyle to then refocus, re-prepare. Just missed out by a fingertip but it was a great effort by Ryan and I’m sure that we’ll see more from the team as the week goes on.”