Hoff torches OmahaWow, that kid from suburban Baltimore is something. No, we’re not talking about Michael Phelps. Nineteen-year-old Katie Hoff stole the show at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, winning two events about 45 minutes apart Wednesday — setting new American records in both.
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Wow, that kid from suburban Baltimore is something.
No, we’re not talking about Michael Phelps.
Nineteen-year-old Katie Hoff stole the show at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, winning two events about 45 minutes apart Wednesday — setting new American records in both.
Phelps reached the halfway point to setting his Beijing Games program, earning his third individual title of the trials in the 200-meter butterfly after also locking up a spot in at least one relay. The 23-year-old is on pace in his bid for eight wins in China to break Mark Spitz’s 36-year-old record of seven golds. And Hoff might be just as busy as her former teammate at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club.
She added the 200 freestyle and 200 individual medley to her growing list of trials wins — rallying to beat Natalie Coughlin in the second of those, no less.
“I’m in great shape,” Hoff said after pulling off swimming’s version of the daily double. “I’ve trained to swim a lot of events in one night. I’m glad my training pulled through.”
Hoff already won the 400 IM and 200 free, the latter giving her a spot in the 800 free relay. She’s still got two more events to go, the 100 and 800 free, and a top four in the shorter race would get her on at least one more relay team.
For those who don’t have a calculator handy, that’s eight races — likely as many as Phelps, who treats her like a little sister but might have to share some of his Olympic spotlight.
For the first time in four days, there were no world records at the trials. Six were set through the first three days of the meet. But Brendan Hansen, the top semifinal qualifier in the 200 breast, positioned himself to go after Japanese rival Kosuke Kitajima’s world record on Thursday.
Phelps looked a bit dejected after just missing his world record in the 200 fly, but not to worry.
“My butterfly has felt better this year than it ever has,” Phelps said. “I’m not sure if I was too conservative going out. The first 100 didn’t feel like it normally does. I secured a spot on the team, and that’s the most important thing.”
Phelps was already on the team, of course. He was merely adding to the 400 IM and 200 free wins, the latter assuring him of a spot on the 800 free relay.
Phelps likely assured himself of a fifth Olympic race when he posted the second-fastest time in the morning preliminaries of the 100 free. He withdrew after that, confident he’d done enough to get on the 400 free relay.
If nothing else, Phelps eliminated the controversy that dogged his spot on the 400 free relay at the last Olympics. He didn’t swim the 100 free at the 2004 trials but was still picked for the team that wound up taking only a bronze in Athens.
Phelps also finalized what races he’ll do at the trials, withdrawing from the 200 backstroke that begins Thursday featuring world champion Ryan Lochte and defending Olympic champion Aaron Peirsol. Phelps will close the trials swimming the 200 IM — he’s the world recordholder — and the 100 fly against rival Ian Crocker.
With Phelps out of the way, Jason Lezak set his second American record of the day in the semifinals of the 100 free, putting up a blistering 47.58. He broke the mark of 47.78 set in the morning preliminaries by Garrett Weber-Gale, who bested Lezak’s 48.15 the heat before.
Lezak was just off the world record of 47.50, established in March by France’s Alain Bernard, and the 47.52 put up by Australia’s Eamon Sullivan.
“When they did their 47.5s, I didn’t think it was attainable,” Lezak said. “I couldn’t believe how fast they were going. For me to come within hundredths of that, it’s unbelievable.”