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Pacific track athlete makes a big splash – YouTube style

Caitlyn Tateishi gains online noteriety with a tumble in a pool that was captured on video

When Pacific University hosted the Pacific Four-Way on March 7 - the first on-campus track meet in more than 40 years - the school hoped to generate some notoriety for its growing track and field program.

The Boxers got plenty of exposure, but it wasn't exactly what they had in mind.

In the first event of the day, the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase, Pacific senior Caitlyn Tateishi trailed Lewis and Clark's Hannah Hultine by a few steps coming into the final water barrier. Looking to make up some time and perhaps overtake her competitor, Tateishi tripped going over the barrier and splashed face-first into the water pit, arms and legs flailing the whole way down.

She emerged from the pool dripping wet but otherwise unhurt, and slogged the final 150 meters in squishy shoes and socks.

It was the type of spectacular fall that, once the initial embarrassment subsides, leaves people saying, 'I wish I would have gotten that on video!'

Someone did.

A few minutes after toweling off and running a cool-down lap, Tateishi was in the bleachers of Lincoln Park Stadium watching a short, bouncy video clip of her spill that Kamie Oda, a friend and high school teammate, had shot with her digital camera from a fortuitous position near the water barrier.

Two days later, after some playful prodding from roommate Jenn Playdon, Tateishi's clip was up on the popular video sharing web site YouTube. Two weeks later, it had more than 2,300 hits - roughly equivalent to the entire Pacific undergraduate population.

'I felt like people around school saw me and knew me from the video but didn't want to say anything,' Tateishi said on Monday, recalling the incident and her resulting popularity with a good-natured smile. 'People would say, 'Oh, I saw this great YouTube video.' The weirdest part was that people didn't even know me.'

The clip, clocking in at 14 seconds and featuring priceless commentary from Oda, has become an Internet sensation. Tateishi placed the video on her Facebook page - a social networking site for college students and young professionals - and said she has received a slew of comments, mostly extolling the hilarity of watching a 5-foot-2, 100-pound girl crash face-first into a pool of water over and over and over again.

A sampling:

- What a spill!

- Just saw the video and it is epic!

- I laughed … explosively.

- My cheeks hurt from laughing at your video. I swear I was not laughing on Friday, but right now my face actually hurts.

Tateishi has moved beyond the embarrassment. She admits that she cried after finishing the race, but laughs freely about the incident now. She even competed in the steeplechase event at last Friday's Charles Bowles Classic in Salem (she finished eighth in a field of 11 runners).

Pacific track and field coach Tim Boyce attributes her fall to a momentary lack of focus during one of the sport's most grueling events.

'I've had All-American runners who've fallen. Those barriers are unforgiving,' Boyce said. 'On that last water jump I think she saw that she had a chance to maybe catch the other runner and just lost focus for a split-second.'

Tateishi admits that her focus may have shifted away from the barrier for an instant, but she has a more cosmic explanation for her fall.

'Back before the season started, Jenn and I would look up all the steeplechase falls (on YouTube),' she said. 'We spent an entire night one time looking at all the videos and I kept laughing at every single one. I really think it's karma.

'As soon as I fell in the water, that was the first thing I thought. I was like, 'Oh, I wish I hadn't laughed at all those people.''

All the hilarious videos aren't quite as funny now that the shoe is on the other foot, but Tateishi is dealing with her newfound notoriety.

'It's the single most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to me. But there's nothing I can do about it, so I might as well just laugh,' she said. 'People saw it. It's not like I can hide it and pretend it didn't happen.

'At least I got a good video out of it. Out of all the falls on YouTube, I think it's the best one.'


To see Tateishi's video, click here.