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The start of something extraordinary

Pan Pacific Swimming Championships Day 1 Wrap

Lauren Boyle produced an emphatic performance to claim the silver medal in the 800m freestyle on a cool and windswept opening night of finals at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships on the Gold Coast tonight.

The 26 year old could not hold on to American teen sensation Katie Ledecky, who was a fraction outside her own world record after winning the 200m freestyle earlier in the night.

However it was a committed and commanding effort from the New Zealander who went with the American, going through the 400m in 4:07, and holding on for second in 8:18.87, only 19/100ths of a second outside her national record.

It was only New Zealand’s third medal at the Pan Pacific Championships in the last 17 years and the first silver medal since Danyon Loader at Atlanta in 1995.

It was a night of courageous efforts from the AquaBlacks who rose above the testing conditions at the outdoor facility at Southport, with rain and strong winds in the early part of the programme especially.

Waikato’s Matthew Stanley was just a fraction outside his national record, clocking 1:47.33 to finish seventh in the 200m freestyle in arguably his best swim of the year.

Wellington’s two Samanthas – Lee and Lucie-Smith – were both fifth in the B finals of the 200m butterfly and 200m freestyle respectively.

US-based Counties Manukau swimmer Corey Main produced a much improved effort to finish third in the B final of the 100m backstroke in 54.70s, less than half a second outside his national record in some of the toughest conditions of the night.

Taranaki’s Dylan Dunlop-Barratt was a blink outside his best to go under the 1:50 mark finishing fifth in the B final of the 200m freestyle just ahead of clubmate Steven Kent.

The night belonged to Boyle who pressed hard from the start to go with Ledecky, going through the halfway mark in 4:07 before dropping slightly with two 63 second laps and then coming home with poise and purpose to claim the silver medal.

“I am really happy to go faster than Commonwealths and get a solid 800 time for the year,” Boyle said.

She responded well to the challenge from Ledecky, who was the standout swimmer of the night.

“It was pretty good swimming next to Ledecky again. She makes everyone else in the race lift the bar which is pretty exciting.

“For me I wanted to go better than Commonwealths. I wanted to go out faster because I think at Glasgow I hung around too much at the beginning. I wanted to go out fast and see what happened and luckily I was able to hang on tonight.

“It’s nice to get this done on the first night because it can be a stressful event. I have the relay tomorrow and then the 400 so this swim sets things up really well.”

Stanley had managed 1:48.74 in the heats of the 200m freestyle to grab the final spot in the A final, only because nations are limited to two swimmers in a final.

He took full advantage of his fortune to produce a swim of pluck and principle, which in more favourable climes would surely have produced a national record.

Nonetheless the long-limbed Stanley was well pleased with his performance.

“I am really happy with the way I raced tonight. I was with the field for a lot of the race,” Stanley said.

“Over the last few months I have been disappointed with the way I have been swimming so to finish this event on a reasonably high note is good and something I can build on for next season.”

Stanley said he changed his approach to the race from the Commonwealth Games.

“I wanted to stay loose and compete as much as I could. I didn’t want to tighten up as I did this morning and in Glasgow and get the best out of myself.

“It’s rainy, wet, cold and it was really windy coming back to the 100m end and so I am really happy with that swim.”

The quadrennial Pan Pacific Championships is a five-day meet with full strength teams from USA, Japan, Canada, Australia, the rest of the Pacific and other non-European nations.

Tomorrow’s racing features Glenn Snyders in the 100m breaststroke, Laura Quilter, Lee and Lucie-Smith in the 100m freestyle, Steven Kent and Ewan Jackson in the 100m freestyle and Boyle to lead the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay.

Finals Results:

Women 200m butterfly, A final

B final: Maya Dirado (USA) 2:07.42, 1; Hali Flickinger (USA) 2:08.81, 2; Sakiko Shimizu (JPN) 2:10.06, 3. Also: Samantha Lee (NZL) 2:13.08, 5.

Women 200m freestyle A final: Katie Ledecky (USA) 1:55.94, 1; Bronte Barratt (AUS) 1:57.22, 2; Shannon Vreeland (USA) 1:57.38, 3.

B final: Missy Franklin (USA) 1:56.04, 1; Emma McKeon (AUS) 1:57.21, 2; Camille Cheng (HKG)_ 1:58.99, 3. Also: Samantha Lucie-Smith (NZL) 2:00.75, 5.

Men 200m freestyle, A final: Thomas Fraser-Holmes (AUS) 1:45.98, 1; KosukeHagino (JPN) 1:46.08, 2; Cameron McEvoy (AUS) 1:46.36, 3. Also: Matthew Stanley (NZL) 1:47.33, 7.

B Final: Matt McLean (USA) 1:47.16, 1; David McKeon (AUS) 1:47.48, 2; Yuki Koburi (JPN) 1:47.98, 3. Also: Dylan Dunlop-Barratt (NZL) 1:49.30, 5; Steven Kent (NZL) 1:49.71, 6.

Men 100m backstroke, A final: Ryosuke Irie (JPN) 53.02, 1; Matt Grevers (USA) 53.09, 2; Ryan Murphy (USA) 53.27, 3.

B Final: David Plummer (USA) 53.19, 1; Josh Beaver (AUS) 54.05, 2; Corey Main (NZL) 54.70, 3.

Women 800m freestyle: Katie Ledecky (USA) 8:11.35, 1; Lauren Boyle (NZL) 8:18.87, 2; Brittany MacLean (CAN) 8:20.02, 3.

CAPTION: Lauren Boyle in action and on the podium in the 800m freestyle at the Pan Pacific Championships on the Gold Coast tonight.

The images are free for editorial use only. Credit: Delly Carr