The Pan Pacific championships had only been held in the United States one other time since they started in 1985 (they were in Atlanta, GA in 1995). Swimming is one of my favorite Summer Olympic sports, so when I saw that the championships were going to be a few miles away (and practically on my way home from work), I had to go. I wanted to make sure I saw Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps (my two favorite American swimmers). They both competed the first night and Michael Phelps was swimming the 200m fly – the stroke I most wanted to watch live. I used to swim a lot and though I was pretty good at butterfly, it’s definitely my least favorite. Butterfly is definitely the most impressive to watch on TV and live, though.
Not surprisingly, Phelps won the 200m fly. Though he won with the fastest time this year, he was clearly disappointed and ready to put this race behind him and concentrate on doing it better next time. In his post-win interview, he said he was far from the shape he wants to be in going into the Olympics in 2012. He may not have beaten his world record, but Phelps looked pretty good from where I was sitting. Ryan Lochte won the 200m free, which was also great to see live. Not surprisingly, he was much more pleased with his performance than Phelps. Lochte’s teammate Peter Vanderkaay came in third Aaron Peirsol, who was only in the A final of the 50m back because Lochte dropped out (he decided to only compete in one event per day) won the race. He thanked Lochte from dropping out of the race in his post-win interview.
Allison Schmitt won the women’s 200m freestyle, followed by Morgan Scroggy as the US women finished 1-2 in that event. Teresa Crippen and Kathleen Hersey finished 2-3 in the 200m fly, Christine Magnuson won bronze in the 50m butterfly, and Natalie Coughlin won bronze in the 100m backstroke. The United States definitely had a great start in the swimming championships.
The Australians also did very well, starting off the night with two swimmers (only one of whom was in the A finals heat) tying for the Pan Pacific Championship record in the 50m fly. Marieke Guehrer won gold alone, since her teammate Yolane Kukla who set the Pan Pacific Championship record in the first race of the night was in the consolation final.
Needless to say, NBC didn’t show the event live, but they were there tonight and will air highlights of the championships Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon (Pacific time). It’s really great that NBC will be televising the championships in HD, though. I look forward to seeing the races I watched (and the rest of the championships) from another angle.
I really enjoyed my first big swimming event. Until tonight, I don’t think I’d attended a swimming meet where I didn’t compete. It was very exciting to see world championship swimming so close to home. I never would have expected to see swimming championships in Orange County. Those of us in southern California are very lucky. We’ve had one of the mildest summers I can remember as the rest of the country has been facing record highs and we get to watch the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships live. What more could an Olympic-obsessed hockey fan trying to fill the time before the NHL season starts up again want? Training camps start in just a little under a month, so it won’t be long before the NHL is back. It was nice to have the swimming championships as a distraction until the NHL returns.