3 U.S. Swimmers Win Gold Medals

Monday, August 26th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) _ Natalie Coughlin, Aaron Peirsol and Jason Lezak added to the United States' gold-medal count Monday at the Pan Pacific swimming championships.

Coughlin swam the second sub-1 minute 100 backstroke in history, winning the event in 59.72 seconds.

Peirsol won the 100 backstroke in 54.22 seconds, ahead of teammate Randall Bal, while and Lezak won the 50 freestyle in 22.22. The U.S. now leads the standings with eight gold medals halfway through the six-day meet.

Ian Thorpe added his third gold with a win in the 200 freestyle, setting the meet record in a time of 4 minutes, 44.75 seconds. Australia has six gold medals, second to the U.S.

Coughlin, who also won the 100 butterfly Sunday, set the world mark in the 100 backstroke at the U.S. trials in Florida earlier this month. She finished two bodylengths ahead of Australia's Dyana Calub.

``The start tonight was a lot better than yesterday,'' Coughlin said. ``I was a lot more excited tonight, and it showed in the race.''

Thorpe, who won the 400 freestyle and anchored the winning 4x100 freestyle relay team Saturday, finished ahead of teammate Grant Hackett. American Nate Dusing took the bronze in 1:48.11.

``I was happy with the time and happy with the result,'' Thorpe said. ``I'm pretty tired at the moment to be honest. I'm doing well so far and hope it continues for the rest of the meet.''

Thorpe won six golds at the 2001 world championships in Fukuoka, Japan, and a record six gold medals at last month's Manchester Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England.

Recently, Thorpe has been rumored to be thinking about splitting from longtime coach Doug Frost after the Pan Pacs. He denied the reports.

``There is 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.''

In other events, Japan won gold again when Tomoko Hagiwara won the women's 200 individual medley in 2:13.42. American Gabrielle Rose won silver while teammate Maggie Bowen took bronze.

``I heard the crowd cheering and knew I had to do well,'' Hagiwara said. ``I came into the race as a challenger, and I think my efforts have been rewarded.''

American Michael Phelps, looking to improve on his world record in Tuesday's final, posted a time of 1:56.15 in the men's 200 butterfly semifinals.