Groves seals Aussie 4x200m Pan Pacs win

Laine Clark
Madeline Groves (R) anchored Australia's gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay at the 2018 Pan Pacs

These days, not much fazes Australian swimmer Madeline Groves.

Not even the fear of being hunted by world and Olympic champion Katie Ledecky.

Rio Olympic silver medallist Groves passed her latest test of character by somehow holding out fast finishing American Ledecky by 0.25 of a second to seal Australia's stunning 4x200m freestyle relay Pan Pacs gold in Tokyo on Friday.

The butterfly specialist looked set to be blown away by multiple world record holder Ledecky on the final leg but the 23-year-old held on to seal Ausralia's boilover win in seven minutes, 44.12 seconds - a new championship record.

It also eclipsed the national mark set by Australia's Olympic gold medal winning team in Beijing 2008.

Groves' heroics ensured the all conquering Americans suffered their first 4x200m women's relay loss at a major meet for the first time since 2009.

But after enduring a nightmare 2017, Groves is making a habit of overcoming the odds.

Groves has been battling back to top form after being diagnosed with the painful condition of endometriosis, undergoing surgery last November.

As she came to terms with her condition, Groves also fought to clear her name last October with world body FINA after facing a 12 month suspension for missing three drug tests in 12 months.

No wonder the thought of a fast finishing Ledecky did not distract Groves.

"I really wanted to dig deep and fight hard and get to the wall first," Groves said.

"I wasn't really expecting to have such a lead. The girls did such a fantastic job."

Ledecky looked to have reeled in Groves with an extraordinary final leg of one minute, 53.84 seconds but it was all to no avail.

Groves allowed herself an overdue pat on the back as she contemplated her difficult journey to the Pan Pacs.

"I have had a very disrupted prep, there has been a lot stuff with my endometriosis," she said.

"With my illness it has been difficult getting consistency in training which affects endurance.

"It can be frustrating when you go through it but I am a very optimistic person and I am getting treatment and getting better."

Ariarne Titmus led off Australia's 4x200m team in under world record time before Emma McKeon and Mikkayla Sheridan maintained their surprise advantage, setting up Groves' barnstorming finish.