American swimmers dominated this weekend's Pan Pacific Championships, leading the medal count with 40 of 62 possible medals, including 14 golds. Two of those golds made the Gold Coast, Australia, meet even sweeter: two-time All-Met Swimmer of the Year Katie Ledecky landed her third world record in 15 days, and once-retired Michael Phelps earned his first gold since the 2012 London Olympics.
Ledecky, two-time All-Met Swimmer of the Year, had already set the bar for the women's 400-meter freestyle this month at the U.S. national championships, but bested her own time by nearly a half-second with a time of 3 minutes 58.37 seconds. The 17-year-old went on to crush her own record for the 1,500-meter freestyle, with a time of 15:28.36, and rake in five gold medals. Ledecky also held the world freestyle record for the 800-meter going into the meet.
"She's a stud," Phelps said of Ledecky during an interview with the Washington Post. "Watching her swim, it's remarkable."
Phelps is feeling pretty remarkable himself. Four months after ending his retirement, the world champion flew past teammate Ryan Lochte to win the men's 100-meter butterfly in 51.29 seconds and secure a place on next summer's world championships team.
"It definitely feels good to have that sort of confidence back," Phelps said of going for gold. "I know there's a lot that can happen in a year with training, and that's what I'm looking forward to. … This is a building year for me."
This was the fourth straight Pan Pacific win for the United States, but not its most impressive. The team's 2010 showing led to 47 medals, 25 of which were gold.
"That's equally as illustrative of the improved depth of Japan, and an Australian team that is heading toward a peak, plus an American team that was heavily reliant on rookies and other relative newcomers," Swim Swam reporter Braden Keith points out.