| Natalie Coughlin celebrates her victory in the women’s 100m backstroke at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Yokohama Monday. (AFP)
Yokohama: Ian Thorpe dug deep into his reserves of energy to win gold in the 200 metres freestyle with the fourth fastest time ever at the Pan Pacific swimming championships on Monday.
The 19-year-old, who has complained of fatigue since the Commonwealth Games, clocked one minute 44.75 seconds to win his third gold in Yokohama with Australian teammate Grant Hackett taking silver in a personal best time of 1:45.84.
American Nate Dusing was third in 1:48.11.
“The tank has been on empty the whole meet. I’m on emergency supplies already. I said it would be more of a mental challenge than a physical one due to the hectic schedule,” said Thorpe, who won six gold medals in Manchester.
Although 0.23 seconds inside world record pace after 50 metres, Thorpe never fully extended himself over the second half of the race and settled instead for a new championship best.
“I wanted to go out fast but my own world record splits are pretty tough, so I would have to go a lot harder over the first 100 if I wanted to break 1:44,” added Thorpe, who races in the 100 freestyle heats and the 4x200 freestyle relay on Tuesday.
While Thorpe missed out on his own world record of 1:44.06, he did give Australia a sixth gold of the six-day Pan Pacific championships, although the US finished day three with a lead of 8-6 in the gold medal standings.
Natalie Coughlin, Aaron Peirsol and Jason Lezak all won their finals as the US continued their recovery after a disappointing opening day, when they collected just one gold.
Coughlin, who took gold in the 100 metres butterfly on Sunday, added the 100 backstroke title in a time of 59.72, the second quickest time ever and just 0.14 outside her own world record.
Dyana Calub of Australia took silver in 1:01.49 less than a year after knee surgery, while American Haley Cope was third in 1:01.74, both personal best times.
Meanwhile, US champion Peirsol won gold in the men’s 100 metres backstroke in 54.22 with American teammate Randall Bal taking silver in 54.45 and Tomomi Morita of Japan pocketing the bronze.
Tomoko Hagiwara brought “Thorpe-mania” to a temporary halt as the Japanese champion caught Gabrielle Rose on the final leg of freestyle to win the women’s 200 metres individual medley in 2:13.42 to a deafening roar from a 5,000-strong home crowd.
The US, looking to avenge a 13-9 loss to Australia in the gold medal count in Fukuoka, also increased their lead in the overall Pan Pacific points total with 221.
Australia are on 164 points but have a fight on their hands to prevent the US from claiming back the unofficial title of the world's number one swimming nation.
Triple world-record holder Ian Thorpe of Australia may split with his long-time coach Doug Frost after the Pan-Pacific swimming championships, according to reports on Monday.
Australian newspapers said 19-year-old Thorpe was considering leaving Frost, who began coaching the swimming superstar when he was an eight-year-old in an outer Sydney suburban swimming pool.
Reports said Thorpemay switch to Tracey Menzies, a young assistant of Frost’s.
The Thorpedo, who won six titles at last year’s world championships and a record six gold medals at this month’s Manchester Commonwealth Games, has only ever been coached by Frost.
He refused to confirm or deny the speculation that they will end their long-standing and successful partnership.
“There’s no truth in the fact that something has been determined,” Thorpe said. “I will sit down with Doug as I do after every competition and talk about what feels right, what feels wrong and how I can improve myself to be a better athlete.