Two former Bulldog swimmers represented the United States team on the podium at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships in the Tokyo International Swimming Center on Thursday.
Chase Kalisz stood atop the 400-meter individual medley race with a time of 4:07.95, touching the wall nearly seven seconds before Japan’s Olympic champion Hagino Kosuke after being down at the midway point of the race. The Georgia alum missed the Pan Pacs record by just a few tenths of a second, which was set by Ryan Lochte in 2010 at 4:07.59. The gold marked Kalisz’ first, after taking bronze in the 400-meter individual medley in 2014.
“The Japanese are definitely way stronger than me on the front half,” Kalisz said. “So I just had to keep my composure for the first 200 and really play to my strengths, and I think I did a good job of that tonight. I just knew I needed to keep building on the breaststroke and get a good enough lead so I could be prepared to hold them off if they were going to make a charge in the freestyle.”
Jay Litherland also placed fourth in the 400-meter individual medley with a time of 4:12.87.
Melanie Margalis recorded her first career Pan Pacs medal – silver – in the 400–meter individual medley at 4:35.60, behind Japans Ohasi Yui.
In the 200-meter freestyle, Allison Schmitt posted a time of 1:56.71 for fourth place.
The Pan Pacific Championships began in 1985, and the event has adhered to a four-year system since 2002. Locations have cycled between Japan, Australia, Canada and the United States, with this year hosted by the Japan Swimming Federation. The United States leads the medal count after the first day with five gold medals, three silver, three bronze and 11 total.
The two Americans with the fastest times in the races at the Pan Pacific Championships and Phillips 66 Nationals will claim the spots in the individual events at the 2019 World Championships.
Kalisz boasts the top 400-meter individual medley time from both events, with Litherland’s 4:10.21 from Nationals coming in second. Schmitt’s 200-meter freestyle of 1:55.82 from Irvine, California at Nationals still ranks second in the standings.
The Bulldogs continue competition on Friday in the 100-meter freestyle, the 200-meter butterfly, and the 100-meter backstroke.