Canada's Cochrane swims to 1,500 freestyle title at Pan Pac

Canadian Olympic and world championship medallist Ryan Cochrane produced the fastest time in the world this year to win the men's 1,500-metre freestyle Wednesday at the Pan Pacific Championships in Irvine, Calif.

Canadian Olympic and world championship medallist Ryan Cochrane produced the fastest time in the world this year to win the men's 1,500-metre freestyle Wednesday at the Pan Pacific Championships in Irvine, Calif.

The Victoria native clocked 14 minutes 49.47 seconds for the victory, the only sub 14:50 time in 2010.

Chad La Tourette of the United States was second in 14:54.48 and Lin Zhang of China third in 14:58.90.

"I had the best year of training in my life and it was great to see it pay off with the win here," said Cochrane.

"The big difference for me was the first half of my swim was really smooth tonight. That allowed me hold and then really progress over the final lengths."

Cochrane's coach Randy Bennett said his pupil showed confidence in his swim.

"He felt comfortable against this field and being in the lead," said Bennett. "He needs to swim to win and winning the race was the most significant thing for him tonight."

World and Olympic champion Ous Mellouli of Tunisia was last in the timed final.

"I'm not going to cry about this. I saw it coming," he said. "I have not been very consistent and in the 1,500 if you're not consistent, it shows. A lot needs to be done."

Phelps leads the way

Meanwhile, Michael Phelps led all the way in winning the 200-metre butterfly to extend his eight-year dominance in the event.

The American touched in 1:54.11, fastest in the world this year. He finished a body-length ahead of Aussie Nick D'Arcy, who was timed in 1:54.73 after coming into the final with the world's fastest time.

Takeshi Matsuda of Japan was third and China's Peng Wu fourth.

"The last 50 hurt," said Phelps, still breathing hard minutes after the race. "I was just like, 'Please, get to the wall.' I felt the splash of water in the lane next to me, and I was like, 'Please, don't get run down.' The fitness level is just not there."

Phelps was aiming at a time in the 1:53 range and was critical of his technique.

He may not be in the same form that earned him a record eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympics, but it was Phelps' 31st consecutive victory in a 200 fly final. He hasn't lost since American Tom Malchow beat him at the 2002 Pan Pacs.

"That was the race I really came on the scene in," he said. "I do like coming out and racing it."

Earlier, Stefan Hirniak of Victoria broke his own Canadian record in the 200-metre butterfly.

Hirniak lowered the mark to 1:57.31 seconds, lopping two seconds off his seasonal best time, before finishing eighth in the final at 1:57.94.

Sticking to the plan

"That felt awesome," said Hirniak of the morning heats. "I stuck to the race plan and didn't let it get to me, and finished with a new Canadian record. The plan was to be smooth on the first 50 metres and bring it home as hard as I could on the last hundred."

American Ryan Lochte cruised to victory in the 200-metre freestyle in 1:45.30, the fastest time in the world this year. It bested the 1:45.47 swum by world champion Paul Biedermann of Germany at the European championships earlier this month.

Lochte had a strong showing at the U.S. nationals earlier this month when he won three events, including beating Phelps for the first time ever in a long-course medley.

Asked if he is swimming the best of his career, Lochte said, "Maybe. I feel good, I've done the training. I'm just going to go back and keep doing what I'm doing."

Olympic silver medallist Park Tae-hwan of South Korea was second in 1:46.27. American Peter Vanderkaay, the bronze medallist at the Beijing Games, was third in 1:46.65.

Olympic champion Aaron Peirsol of the U.S. won the 100 backstroke in 53.31, bettering his own meet record of 53.32 set four years ago.

Peirsol was fourth at the turn, then poured it on down the stretch to win in his hometown pool. Junya Koga of Japan was second in 53.63. Ashley Delaney of Australia was third.

Cesar Cielo of Brazil won the 50-metre men's butterfly with the fastest time in the world this year.

Cielo, the world and Olympic champion in the 50 freestyle, touched in a meet-record 23.03 seconds. He defeated teammate Nicholas Santos, who was timed in 23.33.

"I'm not really a 50-metre butterflyer, but everything that's a 50 I find a way to go fast and tonight I found a way to go really fast," Cielo said. "It was a wonderful surprise."

Guehrer 50-metre butterfly

On the women's side, world champion Marieke Guehrer of Australia won the 50-metre butterfly at the Pan Pacific championships.

Guehrer touched in 25.99 seconds on Wednesday night, tying the meet record set in the consolation final.

Teammate Emily Seebohm finished second in 26.08. American Christine Magnuson was third in 26.33.

Katerine Savard of Quebec City finished eighth in 27.16.

Seebohm rallied from third to win the 100 backstroke in 59.45. Aya Terakawa of Japan was second in 59.59 and two-time Olympic champion Natalie Coughlin finished third in 59.70.

Julia Wilkinson of Stratford, Ont., (1:00.44) was fifth.

The U.S. went 1-2 in the women's 200 freestyle. Olympian Allison Schmitt won in 1:56.10, lowering the meet record that Morgan Scroggy had set in the morning heats. Scroggy finished in 1:57.13.

"I knew she was right there and I was just hoping we were touching 1-2," said Schmitt, who won her first international title with the world's second-fastest time this year.

Genevieve Saumur (1:58.20) and Barbara Jardin (1:58.98), both of Montreal, were sixth and eight, respectively.

World champion Jess Schipper of Australia edged American Teresa Crippen to win the 200 fly.

Schipper, the Olympic bronze medallist , touched in 2:06.90 from lane seven. Crippen, who swam in lane four as the fastest qualifier, finished in 2:06.93.

Audrey Lacroix of Pont-Rouge, Que., (2:08.32) was fourth, while Mackenzie Downing of Whitehorse (2:11.39) finished seventh.