GOLD COAST, Australia – Ryan Cochrane led Canada to a strong finish in the pool at the Pan Pacific Championships Sunday in Gold Coast, Australia.
Cochrane, who trains at the Swimming Canada High Performance Centre – Victoria, opened the night with a win in the men’s 800-m freestyle. His time of 7:45.39 was more than two seconds ahead of Australian Mack Horton (7:47.73), who out-touched American Connor Jaeger by 0.02 for the silver.
It was Canada’s first gold medal at this year’s championships, coming on the heels of Cochrane’s silver in the 1,500 and fourth-place finish in the 400.
“The 800 is my favourite event by far and it’s too bad it’s not an Olympic event. There were some good things with all my races this weekend, but to get out-touched in a couple races is mentally exhausting. But physically I was ready and it was exciting to put together a better race,” said Cochrane, who also won gold medals in the 400 and 1,500 at last month’s Commonwealth Games.
Canada added three more bronze medals on the fourth and final day of pool action to more than double its total to seven.
Brittany MacLean of Etobicoke, Ont., followed Cochrane’s gold with a bronze medal in the women’s 1,500. The 20-year-old broke her own national record, becoming the first Canadian female under 16 minutes in a time of 15:57.15. It was her third medal of the championships, to go with bronzes in the 800-m freestyle and 4×200-m free relay. MacLean made a late charge at silver medallist Lauren Boyle of New Zealand (15:55.69) but the story of the race was American Katie Ledecky, who smashed her own world record with a 15:28.36.
“She’s an incredible athlete, you can’t really say anything less of her. I was around 50 (metres) behind but I knew I still had a chance to go a best time and that doesn’t happen very often. It’s just incredible to get a chance to race against somebody like that. To see her doing so well is exciting for the sport of swimming,” MacLean said. “I’m happy to be the first Canadian female under 16 minutes, I think that’s kind of cool and I’m happy with the way I swam it.”
“It was a great finish to the championships,” said Swimming Canada High Performance Director John Atkinson. “Ryan Cochrane coming back in tonight to win the 800 freestyle having previously medalled in the 1,500 and just missing out in the 400 was a great effort to mentally re-prepare and stand up and win gold. And Brittany MacLean capped off a strong week where she’s previously won a medal in the 800 and again tonight setting another Canadian record.”
Winnipeg’s Chantal Van Landeghem continued Canada’s medal parade with a bronze medal in the women’s 50-m freestyle. The 20-year-old, who trains at the High Performance Centre – Ontario, swam a national record 24.69 to earn bronze behind the Campbell sisters of Australia. Cate Campbell set a meet record of 23.96 while Bronte took silver in 24.56.
Van Landeghem then turned around and helped Canada to bronze in the women’s 4×100-m medley relay. She combined with Brooklynn Snodgrass, Kierra Smith and Katerine Savard for a time of 3:57.87.
“Brooklynn, Kierra, Katerine and Chantal did a great job,” Atkinson said. “And Chantal in the 50 freestyle was a great effort from Lane 1 to sneak through to get her hand on the wall and pick up the bronze medal.”
Smith just missed another medal for Canada in the women’s 200-m breaststroke. The Kelowna, B.C., native swam a personal best of 2:23.32 to finish fourth. It was the second PB of the day for the 20-year-old national team rookie, who went 2:24.02 in the morning heats.
Other Canadian A finalists Sunday were Edmonton’s Richard Funk (6th in men’s 200-m breaststroke, 2:13.75), Will Brothers of the HPC-Victoria (8th in men’s 800-m free, 8:06.51), Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson of the HPC-Vancouver (8th in women’s 200-m individual medley, 2:13.31), and Michelle Williams (8th in women’s 50-m free, 25.64) and Martha McCabe (8th in women’s 200-m breast, 2:25.62) of the HPC-Ontario. The men’s medley relay of Russell Wood, Funk, Coleman Allen and Yuri Kisil was fifth in 3:36.61.
Meanwhile, the open water event set for Monday has been cancelled due to unsuitable conditions. Some open water swimmers, including Leonie Pamerleau of Laval, Que., will swim the 10-kilometre marathon in conjunction with the Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Maui, Hawaii, Aug. 31.
Complete results available at: http://liveresults.swimming.org.au/sal/2014PP/