Lauren Boyle has expressed satisfaction in beating her Commonwealth Games 800m time to collect silver, and just New Zealand's second medal since the year 2000, at the Pan Pacific swimming championships.
On Thursday night, Boyle, the 800m freestyle world short course champion, took on American teen sensation Katie Ledecky on the Gold Coast - the peerless 17-year-old Olympic champion and world record holder, informally known in swimming circles as "the female Phelps".
In what was a rare opportunity to face-off and benchmark herself against Ledecky, Boyle produced a more aggressive first third of the race, only to be beaten by the second fastest time in history as the American stormed to gold - who minutes earlier, was a fraction outside her own world record in winning the 200m freestyle final.
However, it was a committed effort from in-form Aucklander Boyle, who produced a faster time than in the Commonwealth Games and only 19/100ths of a second outside her own national record.
"I am really happy to go faster than Commonwealths and get a solid 800m time for the year," Boyle said.
"It was pretty good swimming next to Ledecky again. She makes everyone else in the race lift the bar which is pretty exciting.
"For me I wanted to go better than Commonwealths. I wanted to go out faster because I think at Glasgow I hung around too much at the beginning. I wanted to go out fast and see what happened and luckily I was able to hang on tonight.
"It's nice to get this done on the first night because it can be a stressful event. I have the relay tomorrow and then the 400m so this swim sets things up really well."
Having expectedly scratched herself from the 200m freestyle, Boyle's attention now turns to the 400m, 800m and 1500m - and, further chances to take on Ledecky.
Meanwhile, late on Thursday, Waikato's Matthew Stanley was slightly outside his national record, to finish seventh in the 200m freestyle.
Wellington's two Samanthas - Lee and Lucie-Smith - were both fifth in the "B" finals of the 200m butterfly and 200m freestyle respectively.
American-based Counties Manukau swimmer Corey Main produced an improved effort to finish third in the "B" final of the 100m backstroke and Taranaki's Dylan Dunlop-Barratt was fifth in the "B" final of the 200m freestyle, just ahead of club mate Steven Kent.
Racing continues on Friday afternoon (NZ time) with the morning session heats of day two.
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