Cochrane takes gold in 800 m free at Pan Pacs

Canada's Ryan Cochrane picked up his second title at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Irvine, Calif., capturing gold in the 800-metre freestyle.

Victoria's Ryan Cochrane led all the way in winning the men's 800-metre freestyle race for his second gold at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships on Saturday in Irvine, Calif.

The Olympic bronze medallist was timed in seven minutes 48.71 seconds, second-fastest in the world this year. Cochrane won Canada's only other gold in the 1,500 free.

"It's always amazing to win gold at a major meet like this," said Cochrane. "I think I had a little more in me than that but this has been the hardest year of training I've ever had and the times will work themselves out."

American Chad La Tourette finished second to Cochrane again, having earned silver behind him in the 1,500.

Later Saturday, Canada picked up three bronze medals.

Vancouver's Brent Hayden took bronze in the 50 freestyle behind Nathan Adrian of the United States and Olympic champion Cesar Cielo of Brazil.

"With about 15 metres left I glanced up to see how far the wall was and I decided I wasn't going to breathe at all in the race," Hayden said. "I kept my head down, my arms spinning and got my hand on that wall."

Adrian touched in 21.55 seconds, lowering the four-year-old meet record. Cielo, who earned a bronze in the 100 free, finished in 21.57, off his world record of 20.91 set last December.

Hayden, second in the 100 free, was third in 21.89 seconds.

"It's just a great confidence booster," said Adrian. "There's maybe a little bit of a target on my back and I'll have to work that much harder."

Pierse's record safe

Olympic champion Rebecca Soni of the U.S. briefly threatened the world record in the 200 breaststroke before settling for her second individual gold.

Soni won in 2:20.69, the sixth-fastest time ever, which also lowered the 11-year-old meet record. Leisel Jones of Australia was second in 2:23.23. Vancouver's Annamay Pierse, the world-record holder in the event (2:20.12), finished in 2:23.65 for bronze. Martha McCabe, also of Vancouver, was eighth in 2:27.33.

"It's been [a] hard year. I felt like nothing was working but tonight it came together," said Pierse. "With everything I've gone through this means as much as gold for me."

Jessica Hardy of the United States won the women's 50 free in 24.63 seconds, bettering her own meet record of 24.75 set in the morning heats. Her teammate Amanda Weir was second in 24.70. Victoria Poon of Victoria earned the bronze in 24:76.

Ryan Lochte of the U.S. earned his sixth gold medal at the event, just missing lowering his own world record in the 200-metre individual medley.

Lochte's time of 1:54.43 erased Michael Phelps' meet record set four years ago. Phelps dropped out of the event to focus on the 400 medley relay later.

It was just off Lochte's world mark of 1:54.10 set at last year's world championships in Rome, where he won wearing a neck-to-ankle polyurethane suit. Those suits were banned starting this year, replaced by textile suits.

No long-course world records have been set since the return of textile suits.

In his sight

"I wanted to prove to everyone it wasn't a fluke," Lochte said. "I knew I had it in my sight. All the swims I had earlier in the week made me a little tired. I was like, 'Man, if I'd just taken one or two more dolphin kicks I would've had it."'

Meanwhile, Australia's Emily Seebohm upset world champion Ariana Kukors to win the 200-metre individual medley.

Seebohm led all the way and touched in 2:09.93. The 18-year-old earned her second gold and third individual medal of the meet.

"It was pretty exciting," Seebohm said. "To go under 2:09, I never thought that would happen so soon. I'm still in shock."

Kukors, of the United States, finished second in 2:10.25, well off her world mark of 2:06.15 set in a polyurethane suit at last year's world championships.

"It's my fastest textile suit time," Kukors said. "Emily just had a phenomenal race."

American Caitlin Leverenz earned her second bronze of the meet.

Victoria's Julia Wilkinson set a national record with a fourth-place time of 2:11.32. Calgary's Erica Morningstar was sixth in 2:12.35.

"It's a really tough road to come back and to smash my Canadian record after not touching it for two years makes me very happy," said Wilkinson, who was slowed after the 2008 Summer Olympics after undergoing shoulder surgery.

Two-time Olympic champion Kosuke Kitajima of Japan led all the way in winning the 200 breaststroke with the world's fastest time this year.

He was timed in 2:08.36 after being under world-record pace on the first lap and a 10th of a second off it after 150 metres. Kitajima won the 100 breast earlier in the meet.

"I'm just tired," Kitajima said in English before switching to Japanese. "I made a very good time for this season so I'm very satisfied."

Brenton Rickard of Australia earned the silver in 2:09.97. American Eric Shanteau took the bronze. Vancouver's Scott Dickens was fifth in 2:12.61.

With files from CBC Sports