Lara Grangeon (centre, left) was part of New Caledonia's successful women's 4x100m medley relay team ©Port Moresby 2015

New Caledonia’s Lara Grangeon put disqualification in the women’s 200 metres backstroke event behind her to win a further two gold medals to take her overall Pacific Games tally to 11 here.

Grangeon was ruled out of the 200m backstroke final after ending her qualification heat completely submerged under water.

International Swimming Federation (FINA) backstroke rules state that it is permissible for a swimmer to be completely submerged during the turn, at the finish and for a distance of not more than 15m after the start and each turn, but crucially by that point the head must have broken the surface, which in Grangeon’s case it had not.

Grangeon, who competes for France in most international competitions as New Caledonia is a French territory, quickly bounced back, however. 

She triumphed in the 200m butterfly with a Games record 2min 11.89sec, finishing ahead of Fiji pair Tieri Erasito and 12-year-old Rosemarie Rova.

Later on this rain-soaked evening, Grangeon joined forces with compatriots Emma Terebo, Adeline Williams and Armelle Hidrio to win the 4x100m medley relay for New Caledonia in another Games record of 4:23.64.

Host nation Papua New Guinea took silver, while Fiji’s came away with bronze.

As for the women’s 200m backstroke final that Grangeon was unable to compete in, Fiji’s Cheyenne Rova secured her country's  first and only swimming gold medal at the Games with a time of 2:30.00.

Papua New Guinea’s Savannah Tkatchenko, daughter of country's Sports Minister Justin Tkatchenko, was 1.90 seconds behind in silver as Fiji’s Brooke Smith secured third place.

Lara Grangeon and Ryan Pini were the best-performing female and male swimmers of the Pacific Games meet
New Caledonia's Lara Grangeon and Papua New Guinea's Ryan Pini were the best-performing female and male swimmers of the Pacific Games ©Port Moresby 2015

Meanwhile, in the men’s 4x100m medley relay, Papua New Guinea’s Ryan Pini missed out on a gold medal in what is expected to be his last-ever competitive appearance as he and team-mates Ryan Maskelyne, Samuel Seghers and Stanford Kawale finished second to Tahiti despite bettering the previous Games record time.

The winning quartet of Teiki Dupont, Rainui Teriipaia-Rentier, Hugo Lambert and Stephane Debaere clocked 3:48.40, 1.13 seconds quicker than the Pini-led squad, and a further two seconds faster than third-placed New Caledonia.  

Tahiti had earlier claimed two other men’s gold medals as Teiki Dupont won the 200m backstroke in 2:09.19, before Rahiti De Vos romped to victory in the men’s 1,500m freestyle event, smashing the Games record by more than 19 seconds with a time of 15:50.16.

New Caledonia’s Hugo Tormento and Samoa’s Brandon Schuster finished behind Dupont in second and third respectively.

Tormento’s fellow countryman Jeremie Dufourmantelle was De Vos’ closest challenger with Papua New Guinea’s Sheldon Plummer rounding off the podium.

In the first final of the night, Terebo registered a Games record time of 26.26 to secure the women’s 50m freestyle crown for New Caledonia, condemning Fiji’s Caroline Puamau to second place with home favourite Mopio-Jane in third.

The Port Moresby 2015 swimming competition is due to conclude tomorrow at the Loloata Island Resort, where the men’s and women’s five kilometre open water events are scheduled to take place.

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