Titmus second in Pan Pacs 800m freestyle

By Laine Clark

The undisputed distance queen of the pool is still America's Katie Ledecky.

But Australia's Ariarne Titmus rated her record-breaking 800m freestyle silver at the Pan Pacs as a "breakthrough" ahead of Tokyo 2020.

Titmus, 17, set a national record to spark Australia's day one haul of one gold, three silver and a bronze on the opening night of the four-day meet in Tokyo.

She clocked eight minutes, 17.07 seconds to eclipse Jess Ashwood's 2016 national mark by more than a second and hold off fast finishing American Leah Smith for second.

However, there was no stopping Olympic and world champion Ledecky, who set a championship record of 8:09.13 to claim the meet's first gold - almost eight seconds faster than the Australian.

Titmus still believed she had taken a major step toward reeling in the American at Tokyo 2020 with her latest entry in the national record books.

"I started to feel it in the back end but I'm finally happy to get that breakthrough," Titmus said."

"I started to see Leah come, which pushed me along a little bit.

"But I feel like I took the race out the way I wanted to.

"I'm glad I can finally do a good PB."

Ledecky has been unstoppable in distance freestyle since bursting onto the scene at the 2012 Olympics as a 15-year-old.

And she sounded her intentions in Thursday's heats, blowing off the cobwebs by breaking the 200m meet record with her first swim at the Pan Pacs.

Ledecky had to settle for 200m bronze in the final behind winner, Canada's Taylor Ruck.

But Titmus had hoped to make her presence felt alongside the American after announcing her arrival by becoming the first Australian woman in 36 years to claim the Commonwealth 400m-800m double on the Gold Coast in April.

She also broke the 400m national record at the meet.

The teenager ditched the 200m - the one event she was considered a threat to Ledecky - to concentrate on the 800m in Tokyo after she narrowly missed Ashwood's national record at the Commonwealth Games.

But Titmus was encouraged by what she produced in the 800m final and looked forward to Saturday's 400m where she will again tangle with world record holder Ledecky.

"(Coach) Dean (Boxall) told me if you are next to her after 200 metres, don't get worried you've gone out too fast because she might be playing games," Titmus said.

"I just had to stick to my own plan and I feel like I did that tonight.

"I had great speed in the first half of the race so that will help me in the first 200 meteres of the 400 metres and hopefully I can guts out the rest of the race."