VICTORIA – Cambridge-born Andrew Hurd set a Canadian record and took the gold medal Thursday in the men’s 800-metre freestyle event at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships. Hurd, a two-time Olympian, clocked seven minutes and 55.88 seconds to eclipse the previous national standard of 7:58.63 set in 2003 by Kurtis MacGillivary. Troyden Prinsloo of South Africa was second in 7:56.82 and Victoria’s Ryan Cochrane clocked 7:58.32 to claim the bronze medal.
“It’s awesome, unbelievable,” said Hurd, who celebrated his 24th birthday on Aug. 12. “I followed the plan by going out easy and coming back strong in the final half. My goal was to get the gold medal. I really hope it gives our whole team a lift for the rest of the competition.”
Cochrane, 17, led at the half way point and did manage to break Hurd’s 15-17 national age group record.
“The only swimmer I knew in the race was Andrew Hurd,” said Cochrane. “I didn’t know what to expect from the others but I was a little surprised to be in the lead at 400 metres. I figured I had a chance to challenge for a medal if I could put a strong race together.”
Michael Phelps of the U.S., and Jessica Schipper of Australia both broke world records on the meets opening day. Phelps lowered his three-year-old mark in the 200 butterfly clocking 1:53.80.
Schipper broke the women’s 200 butterfly world record clocking 2:05.40. That bettered the 2:05.61 set by Poland’s Otylia Jedrzejczak last year. MacKenzie Downing of Victoria was seventh and Audrey Lacroix of Montreal eighth in that final.
In the men’s 200 freestyle, Klete Keller of the U.S., was the winner in 1:46.20 with Tae Hwan Park of South Korea second in 1:47.51 and Lin Zhang of China third in 1:47.59. Brent Hayden of Vancouver, second in qualifying, was fourth in 1:47.78 Brian Johns of Vancouver was seventh.
Brittany Reimer of Victoria raced in the women’s 200 freestyle final and placed seventh while 14-year-old Savannah King of Vernon, B.C., was eighth in the women’s 1,500 freestyle.
The meet continues to Monday.