Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin didn’t win individual medals at the Pan Pacific Championships on Friday, but they were part of U.S. relay victories.
Phelps, in his first international meet since the London Olympics, and Franklin, swimming three days after being helped off the pool deck with back spasms, were both fourth in 100m freestyle finals won by Aussies in rainy Gold Coast, Australia.
They were part of a U.S. 4x200m free relay sweep, though.
“Being able to get back on the podium — it feels amazing,” Phelps said, according to The Associated Press. “It’s a good first day. Good first international meet back. There’s no better way to finish this, lovely, rainy night then being able to step up with your teammates and win a gold medal.”
Phelps clocked 48.51 seconds in the 100m free final, an event he doesn’t usually contest at major international meets. He finished behind Australian national champion Cameron McEvoy (47.82), U.S. Olympic champion Nathan Adrian (48.30) and Australian World champion James Magnussen (48.36).
The men’s 100m free was billed as a marquee race at the four-day meet. Adrian and Magnussen, separated by .01 at the Olympics, were expected to vie for the gold.
“I’m not surprised that [McEvoy] won,” Adrian told reporters in Gold Coast. “I’m a little surprised that I went a little slow. … It’s silly to think that it’s just going to be James and I winning every time. … It’s definitely not a two-man game anymore.”
Phelps came back with Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer and Matt McLean to barely win the 4x200m free relay over Japan, by .13. The Japanese lead after each of the first three legs before McLean edged ahead on anchor.
Franklin went 53.87 in the women’s 100m free, won by Australian World champion Cate Campbell in 52.72. Campbell’s winning margin, over her silver medalist sister, was a cushioned .73. American Simone Manuel took bronze.
Franklin joined Katie Ledecky, Shannon Vreeland and Leah Smith to capture the 4x200m free relay by 1.07 seconds over Australia.
“I think we take a lot of ownership with this event,” Franklin said. “They’re not something we like to lose.”
Ledecky, the 200m and 800m free gold medalist Thursday, erased a 1.2-second deficit on the anchor leg for the comeback win.
“I knew I had to sort of think of it as my individual race and not swim it too fast in the first 100,” Ledecky said.
NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will have Pan Pacs coverage Saturday from 3:30-4:30 p.m. ET and Sunday from 1-2:30.
Pan Pacs are not only the biggest meet for U.S. and Australian swimmers this year, but times from Pan Pacs and the U.S. Championships will also determine the U.S. team for the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia.
Phelps may have missed the 100m free medals, but he earned a spot on the 2015 Worlds team as the second fastest American behind Adrian. Franklin, too, can swim the 100m free at Worlds, with Manuel.
In other events, U.S. Olympians Jessica Hardy and Elizabeth Beisel won the 100m breast and 400m individual medley, respectively.
Japan notched wins in the men’s 100m breast (Yasuhiro Koseki) and men’s 400m IM (Kosuke Hagino).
American Kevin Cordes was the top qualifier into the 100m breast final but was disqualified after he appeared to try to take off his goggles during the final, likely because they filled with water.
Men’s 100m Free
1. Cameron McEvoy (AUS) 47.82
2. Nathan Adrian (USA) 48.30
3. James Magnussen (AUS) 48.36
4. Michael Phelps (USA) 48.51
Women’s 100m Free
1. Cate Campbell (AUS) 52.72
2. Bronte Campbell (AUS) 53.45
3. Simone Manuel (USA) 53.71
4. Missy Franklin (USA) 53.87
Men’s 100m Breast
1. Yasuhiro Koseki (JPN) 59.62
2. Felipe Silva (BRA) 59.82
3. Glenn Snyders (NZL) 1:00.18
DQ. Kevin Cordes (USA)
Women’s 100m Breast
1. Jessica Hardy (USA) 1:06.74
2. Kanako Watanabe (JPN) 1:06.78
3. Breeja Larson (USA) 1:06.99
Men’s 400m IM
1. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 4:08.31
2. Tyler Clary (USA) 4:09.03
3. Chase Kalisz (USA) 4:09.62
Women’s 400m IM
1. Elizabeth Beisel (USA) 4:31.99
2. Maya DiRado (USA) 4:35.37
3. Keryn McMaster (AUS) 4:38.84
Men’s 4x200m Free Relay
1. USA 7:05.17
2. Japan 7:05.30
3. Australia 7:08.55
Women’s 4x200m Free Relay
1. USA 7:46.40
2. Australia 7:47.47
3. Canada 7:58.03