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Column by John Lohn
IRVINE, California, August 20. DURING the last two days here at the Pan Pacific Championships, we'll produce some notebooks that take a look at a handful of odds and ends from the William Woollett Aquatic Center.
**While some sterling racing will take place tonight, it's time to start looking ahead to tomorrow, when we'll have the best chance to see some world records. While Ryan Lochte will chase his world mark in the 200 individual medley (1:54.10), Rebecca Soni will take aim at Annamay Pierse's global standard in the 200 breaststroke (2:20.12).
At the United States National Championships two weeks ago, Lochte made a run at the 200 medley record, but settled for a time of 1:54.84 and a victory over Michael Phelps. Lochte is in better shape than he was at Nationals, so the question is whether he can shave 75 hundredths off that mark over the course of four laps.
For Soni, the reigning Olympic champion and former world-record holder in the 200 breast, she was sensational in the 100 breast on Thursday night. Soni went 1:04.93, the fastest time ever in a textile suit. Soni has added motivation for her 200 breast due to her collapse at last year's World Championships during the last lap. Soni held a sizable margin entering the final 50 meters, but faded to fourth place.
**After bypassing the 100 breaststroke to focus on the 100 freestyle, Jessica Hardy got back to her primary stroke during prelims. Hardy claimed the top seed for the final of the 50 breaststroke with a time of 30.39, more than two tenths clear of Australian Leisel Jones. Hardy holds the world record of 29.80 from last summer.
**It wasn't a top-seeded swim and it didn't even win his heat, but you have to like the performance put forth by Tyler McGill in this morning's preliminaries of the 100 butterfly. Racing in the last heat and alongside Michael Phelps, McGill went 51.69 to take the No. 2 seed for the medal race. Phelps touched in 51.48.
With Ian Crocker in retirement, McGill has assumed the role of the United States' second-best performer in the 100 fly. He qualified for last year's World Championships in the event and his showing at Pan Pacs solidified that effort.
**There's a strong Asian influence in the men's 400 freestyle where South Korea's Tae Hwan Park and China's Zhang Lin will renew their Beijing duel. The gold and silver medalists, respectively, at the 2008 Olympics, Park and Zhang qualified one-two for the eight-lap final. The South Korean touched the wall in 3:47.58 while the Chinese swimmer went 3:47.80.
**The two-per-nation rule used at the Pan Pacific Championships for finals proved costly in the 200 backstroke as we won't be able to see Ryan Lochte, Tyler Clary and Aaron Peirsol in the championship heat. Despite swimming the third-fastest time of prelims, Peirsol was bumped to the consolation final. Seeing those three battle it out would have been a treat for the crowd.
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