**So I don’t really have any new Pan Pacs news… I just fell asleep before I could write anything about it on Saturday so you get your update from the nosebleed seats a few days late, sorry :)
I knew Pan Pacs were going on down in Irvine this past weekend, but up until about Tuesday of that week I didn’t know that I would be in town. I changed up my schedule and added an open water event in SoCal on Sunday so I figured I’d make a whole weekend of it and hit Pan Pacs as well. I went online and bought a couple tickets and reserved up a room in town. I wish I would have gotten on it sooner to buy better tickets, but they turned out pretty ok.
My friend Bekah scooped up my extra ticket and her friend Kelly came out with us as well. We figured we could buy her a ticket once we got there since I only had 2. We figured wrong. Totally sold out. We started texting around to see if we knew anybody there with an extra ticket to sell but that didn’t go so hot either. Hmmm… as we stood there dejected next to the will call area I saw a glorious site… a dude settled into an opening in the crowd and shot his hand straight up into the air holding a ticket! This is the universal sign for “hey I don’t want this.” As he started to say “anybody need a…” I sprung into action! I think I like whistled and shouted at him simultaneously and snatched the golden ticket from the hand of our mystery benefactor, well it was a yellow ticket but anyways… victory! He didn’t even want money for it, he was just letting it go! Thank you random guy who didn’t want his ticket for whatever reason, you saved our evening from epic 3 people 2 ticket lame-ness.
Now that we all had tickets we made our way into the bleachers… amazingly our random free ticket was literally 5 feet away from the ones I had purchased earlier in the week. Kelly sat like 2 rows down and one seat over so we could still talk to her without too much yelling. The only downside to where we were sitting, besides being about 1200 feet above sea level, was the sunshine. Since we were almost in orbit it was right there in our faces until it got late enough to drop behind the buildings on the other side of the pool.
The events being raced that night were the men’s 800m free, 200m IM, 50M free, 200m breast, women’s 1500m free, and the 4 x 100 medley relay. In the course of the night I got to see some really great swims and some excellent races. With all the big names in the pool there were a few that ran away with the show. First, Ryan Locthe… The dude is on fire and his 200m IM was nuts! Emily Seebohm from Australia had a great 2oom IM as well way out in lane 7… it was the kind of race where you keep saying “no way… she can’t keep up that pace,” and then eventually she wins the whole thing! Another one of my favorites was there in full effect… Katajima… I just like watching his pulldowns. Rebecca Soni ran away with the women’s 200m breast and look great through the whole thing. Nathan Adrian looked awesome out there too… the guy’s a beast and must be at least 13 feet tall because he made Phelps and the other guys on the 400 medley relay look short! I was also stoked to see Cullen Jones and Mark Gangloff out there… they were the only people in the meet who’ve had the pleasure of racing me :) Both were in my age group at USMS SCY Nationals in Atlanta back in May.
Other observations from up in the crowd… those blow up noise maker things they handed out were awful. Not that they didn’t work, but the kids directly behind us really enjoyed them and never got tired of bashing them together right next to my head. At least no one brought a Vuvezela like they had at the World Cup! The younger swimmers are applying the Twilight Vampire school of thought to the classic question of which swimmer do you like better. Best I can tell Team Lochte is beating out Team Phelps these days with the 13 and under crowd. They also seem to really like Soni and Kukors. Ariana losing the 200m IM was a heart breaker for a large contingent of kids in my section. Overall I gotta say USA Swimming put on a really good show. The pool set up was nice and dramatic, the display screens were awesome, they had a hype man out in the crowd between events, all kinds of music was playing to bring on the A Finals, and people were all very excited to see some swimming. It was really encouraging to be at a sold out swim meet that was basically in the mid-point between Olympiads. Hopefully they can keep up this momentum for 2012!