Swimmers to Watch at Pan Pacifics
Sixty of the United States' best swimmers will compete at the 2010 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Irvine, Calif. starting August 18. The U.S. swim team features 27 Olympians, but will face stiff competition at the largest international event of 2010. The following are seven U.S. swimmers to keep an eye on during the event.
Peirsol is the world-record holder in the men's 100 and 200 backstroke and the proud owner of seven medals. He will face off against Lochte and Japan's Ryosuke Irie in the 100 and 200 backstroke in the Pan Pacifics. Irie swam the fastest 200 backstroke in history last year, but his time was not recognized because he used an unapproved suit. Whose hand will touch the wall first in these events is anyone's guess.
In the 2004 Olympics, Vanderkaay, along with Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Klete Keller beat the favored Australian team, led by Ian Thorpe, in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay. Six years later, Thrope is now retired, and Vanderkaay isn't assured a spot on the relay team. He is however, scheduled to race in the men's 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1500 freestyle.
The lone inclusion on this list without an Olympic medal to his name, Shanteau qualified for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, only to be diagnosed with testicular cancer the week before he left. Shanteau opted to compete at the Olympics regardless, and despite missing the finals of the men's 200 breaststroke by .13, he set a personal best. His cancer now in full remission, Shanteau should make waves in the men's 100 and 200 breaststroke.
At the 2008 Olympics, Soni won the gold medal and set the world record in the women's 200 breaststroke. In late July 2009, Canadian Annamay Pierse broke Soni's record by ten hundredths of a second. The rivals will decide whose stroke reigns supreme when they face off in the 200 breaststroke at the Pan Pacific. Soni is also scheduled to swim the women's 50 and 100 breaststroke.
The most decorated Olympic athlete of the modern era, Phelps holds the record for the most gold medals won in a single Olympics (8) and overall, he has broken 38 world records in swimming. At the Pan Pacifics, Phelps will be swimming the men's 100 and 200 butterfly, as well as the 200 and 400 IM. This will be Phelps first time swimming the 400 IM since the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Often overshadowed by Phelps, Coughlin has carved a distinguished Olympic career of her own, winning 11 medals in 11 Olympic events. Her six medals in Beijing are the most medals won by an American woman in any sport as well. Coughlin will bring that pedigree to the Pan Pacifics, racing in the women's 100 backstroke and 100 freestyle.
The hottest swimmer in the water as of late, Lochte is fresh off three wins at the U.S. Championships, two of which came at the expense of Phelps. The two friendly rivals will face off again in the men's 200 and 400 IM.