Aussie Campbell slays Rio demons with Tokyo super swim

Tokyo (AFP) –


Australia's Cate Campbell swam the second-fastest time ever in the women's 100m freestyle Friday to retain her Pan Pacific title and exorcise the ghosts of her Rio Olympics nightmare.

The former world champion, who famously flopped in the 2016 Olympic final as the red-hot favourite, clocked a lifetime best of 52.03 seconds with a blistering performance to take gold from American Simone Manuel and Canada's Taylor Ruck in Tokyo.

Manuel, who followed her gold medal in Rio by winning the world title last year, took silver in 52.66 and teenage sensation Taylor Ruck the bronze (52.72) a day after storming to victory in the 200m.

"I'm proud of myself -- it shows I can stand up and perform when it counts," said a defiant Campbell, who took a year off from swimming after slumping to sixth in that Olympic final.

"Moments like that reignite your love for the sport," she added. "I've come to peace with whatever the outcome is going to be. I know win or lose I can live with whatever the outcome is.

"Moments like that make all the sacrifices that you make on a daily basis worthwhile."

Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers completed an Aussie double in swimming's blue riband event as he upset new American superstar Caeleb Dressel in the men's 100m freestyle.

Chalmers, who suffered his own Olympic hangover after Rio, produced a dazzling second 50m to capture gold in 48.00 seconds as world champion Dressel shared the silver with Australian Jack Cartwright in 48.22.

- 'Learning experience' -

Dressel put a philosophical spin on his defeat just a year after becoming the second swimmer to win seven gold medals at a single world championships after Michael Phelps in 2007.

"That was pretty far off my best," shrugged the American, who also struggled in the recent national championships. "It's been a little bit of a hectic year but I wouldn't say it was a wake-up call."

"There's nothing really shocking about it," he insisted. "It's a learning experience, simple as that."

Canada's Kylie Masse added a Pan Pacific gold to her world and Commonwealth titles by winning the women's 100m backstroke with a strong finish.

Masse touched first in 58.61 with Australian Emily Seebohm taking silver in 58.72. American Kathleen Baker, the world record holder, took bronze in 58.83.

Elsewhere, Japan's Daiya Seto delighted the home crowd two years before the Tokyo Olympics by capturing gold in the men's 200m butterfly, clocking 1:54.34.

"I could hardly raise my arms at the end," said Seto after defending his title.

"But I could hear the fans cheering and just knew I had to win."

American Ryan Murphy blazed to gold in the men's 100m backstroke, the Olympic champion winning in 51.94, just nine-hundredths outside his own world record.

Australia pipped the United States to gold in the women's 4x200m free, clocking a championship best of 7:44.12.

But the Americans hit back to win the men's 4x200m free in 7:04.36 after a superb anchor leg from Townley Haas.