Canadian teenager Taylor Ruck defeated American star Katie Ledecky as she won gold and set a new meet record in the women's 200-metre freestyle event on the opening day of the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Tokyo.
Ruck's time of one minute 54.44 seconds Thursday lowered the mark set by Ledecky in 2014 — the last time the Pan Pacs were held — by 1.3 seconds. It also bettered the winning time of 1:54.81 Ruck swam at April's Commonwealth Games in Australia, where she captured eight medals.
Click on the video player below to watch Ruck's winning race:
Ledecky finished third Thursday in 1:55.15. She's the reigning Olympic champion in the 200 free, though it's probably the weakest race for the five-time Olympic gold medallist.
Japan's Ikee Rikako placed second in 1:54.85.
CBC Sports swimming analyst Byron MacDonald called it a "big win" for Ruck, even though Ledecky may not have been at her best on a day when she had to compete in two different races.
"Anytime you beat the best female swimmer in the world… it's a huge step forward," MacDonald said. "Ledecky is almost a mythical figure in the sport of swimming. She has only lost one race in major meets in six years. She has oodles of world records.
Click on the video player below to watch the key to Ruck's success:
"No matter what the circumstances are, it is still a chip in the armour. It shows that Ledecky can be beat."
Ruck, 18, said she had to calm herself down as she prepared to face Ledecky.
"It's the name, I guess, because she is the fastest woman on the planet in a lot of races," said Ruck, who was born in Kelowna, B.C. "My coach kind of saw that, so he told me to focus on my lane and my race."
Click on the video player below to hear more from Ruck about her victory:
It wasn't a lost day for Ledecky, who took the 800 in 8:09.13 — the fifth fastest on record — and will be the favourite in the 400 during the four-day event in Tokyo, the biggest meet of the year for most swimmers around the Pacific Rim.
"I knew it was going to be tough," Ledecky said. "It's a tough double. I've done it a number of times, but it's always a difficult thing. I really put a lot of work into not having that happen again. But I still have two more years to go until the big show here in Tokyo."
This year's Pan Pacs come two years out from the Tokyo Olympics. The meet features world swimming powers Australia and the United States and also includes other non-European countries such as Canada, Japan, China and several others.
Canadian backstroke star Kylie Masse is also competing at the Pan Pacs. Penny Oleksiak opted to skip the meet.
CBCSports.ca's live streaming coverage continues Friday at 5:35 a.m. ET and runs through the end of the meet on Sunday.
Rivard breaks para record
Canada's Aurélie Rivard won gold and broke her own world record in the women's 400-metre freestyle S10 event at the Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships, which got underway Thursday in Cairns, Australia.
"It was a near-perfect race and I'm really happy with the result, especially technically speaking," said Rivard, who came in as the defending champion.
Other Canadian para swimmers winning medals Thursday were:
- Angela Marina — gold, women's 200 freestyle S14
- Justine Morrier — gold, women's 100 breaststroke SB14
- Katarina Roxon — gold, women's 100 breaststroke SB8
- Tess Routliffe — gold, women's 100 breaststroke SB7
- Philippe Vachon — silver, men's 400 freestyle S8
- Alec Elliot — silver, men's 400 freestyle S10