Ippei Watanabe

Katie Ledecky wins by 21 seconds to close Pan Pacs

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Katie Ledecky routed the 1500m freestyle field by 21.11 seconds as the U.S. won seven of 10 events on the last day of the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo on Sunday.

Ledecky ended the meet with three gold medals, one silver and one bronze. In her last swim, she clocked 15:38.97, well off her world record from May 16 of 15:20.48, but still easily enough to win an event that she has never lost.

“The time wasn’t great,” Ledecky told media in Tokyo. “Swimming the range of events that I swim, it’s hard to put together all great races.”

She qualified for the 2019 World Championships in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees and also figures to anchor the 4x200m free relay in South Korea next year. Ledecky swam all of those events plus the 4x100m free at the 2017 Worlds.

Sweeping those five events at 2019 Worlds, as she did at the 2015 Worlds, looks like a difficult task. Ledecky was third in the 200m free in Tokyo, faced (and passed) her toughest test in the 400m free in six years and was part of a 4x200m free team at Pan Pacs that was beaten by Australia.

Overall, many U.S. swimmers posted slower times than they did at nationals two weeks ago, some citing jet lag from arriving in Japan four days before the meet started. The Americans won two of the seven relays, its worst percentage at a major international meet since it went winless at the 2001 Worlds.

Australia swept the women’s relays, capped by Cate Campbell passing Olympic and world 100m free champion Simone Manuel on the last leg of the medley relay Sunday. The U.S. barely held off Japan by .05 in the men’s medley relay, one day after swimming out of order in the 4x100m free.

The U.S. totaled 18 gold medals for the meet, which does not include European nations and lacks China’s best swimmers. Australia was second at eight golds with open-water events still to come.

PAN PACS: Full Results | U.S. qualifiers for 2019 Worlds

In other events Sunday, Michael Andrew upset seven-time 2017 World champion Caeleb Dressel in the 50m freestyle for a second straight meet. Andrew, who turned pro at 14 in 2013, clocked a personal-best 21.46 seconds, easily beating Dressel (21.93). Great Britain’s Ben Proud is fastest in the world this year at 21.11.

“The first two finals sessions [this week] were kind of rough,” said Andrew, who clocked personal bests in the 50m free, 100m backstroke and 100m butterfly in Tokyo. “I feel like that had to do with maybe time zone or something. But very quickly I took the effort, changing my mental frame of mind, being able to prepare for the meet I still had ahead of me. So I’m really happy with the swims.”

Campbell completed a sweep of the sprint freestyles, holding off Manuel in the 50m free. Campbell clocked 23.81 to Manuel’s 24.22 and finished the meet with five golds, including three on relays.

Olympic champion Ryan Murphy won the 200m backstroke in a personal-best 1:53.57, ranking him second in the world this year behind world champion Evgeny Rylov of Russia.

Zane Grothe missed the American record by .14, winning the 800m freestyle in 7:43.74. Grothe, who made the 2019 Worlds team in the 400m, 800m and 1500m frees, ranks second in the world this year behind European champion Mykhailo Romanchuk of Ukraine.

Kathleen Baker took the women’s 200m back in a personal-best 2:06.14, ranking her second in the world this year. World leader Kylie Masse of Canada was fourth in 2:07.00.

In the 200m breaststroke, Micah Sumrall edged Olympic 100m breast champion Lilly King by .24 in 2:21.88. King’s rival in the 100m breast, Russian Yulia Efimova, owns the fastest time in the world this year of 2:20.72.

World-record holder Ippei Watanabe of Japan won the men’s 200m breast in 2:07.75. World champion Anton Chupkov of Russia is fastest in the world this year with a 2:06.80.

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MORE: U.S. DQed from Pan Pacs relay for swimming out of order

Anton Chupkov rallies for 200m breast world title (video)

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Russian Anton Chupkov went from fourth to first in the last 50 meters to win the 200m breaststroke at the world championships in Budapest.

Chupkov, the Olympic bronze medalist, passed the world-record holder while swimming the second-fastest time in history, a 2:06.96.

Japan’s Yasuhiro Koseki took silver, .33 behind, followed by Ippei Watanabe, who has the world record of 2:06.67.

Chupkov was a half-second behind going into the last length of the pool. He summoned the fastest final split time by eight tenths as part of a three-gold day for Russia.

The U.S. failed to earn a medal in this event for the third time in the last four worlds. Kevin Cordes entered Budapest ranked No. 3 in the world this year but ended up sixth, one spot behind Nic Fink. Cordes had earned medals in his previous three world championships breaststroke races — bronze in the 50m in 2015 and silver in the 200m in 2015 and the 100m on Monday.

Shock Rio gold medalist Dmitry Balandin of Kazakhstan failed to make the final. Rio silver medalist Josh Prenot was third at the U.S. Championships, missing the world team by one spot.

Men’s 200m Breaststroke Results
Gold: Anton Chupkov (RUS) — 2:06.96
Silver: Yasuhiro Koseki (JPN) — 2:07.29
Bronze: Ippei Watanabe (JPN) — 2:07.47
4. Ross Murdoch (GBR) — 2:08.12
5. Nic Fink (USA) — 2:08.56
6. Kevin Cordes (USA) — 2:08.68
7. Ilya Khomenko (RUS) — 2:09.18
8. Matthew Wilson (AUS) — 2:10.37

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Men’s 200m breaststroke world record falls

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TOKYO (AP) — Teenager Ippei Watanabe set a world record in the men’s 200m breaststroke with a time of 2 minutes, 06.67 seconds on Sunday.

The 19-year-old university student improved on the previous mark of 2:07.01 set by compatriot Akihiro Yamaguchi in 2012. Watanabe set the record time in the final of the 200m breast at the Tokyo metropolitan championships.

“I’m very surprised, I didn’t think I could break a world record,” Watanabe said. “I want to become a swimmer who can keep breaking records.”

Watanabe competed in the men’s 100m breaststroke at the Rio Olympics but didn’t qualify for the final. He also broke the Olympic record for the men’s 200m breaststroke during the semifinal in Rio before finishing sixth in the final.

Watanabe won the 200m breast gold medal at the 2014 Youth Olympics. He qualified for the Rio Games by finishing runner-up in the 200m breast final with a time of 2:09.45 at the national championships in 2016.

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