Hoff ready to bring 200 IM to Athens

NBAC stalwart, Beard chasing Sanders' mark

Krayzelburg returns

Swimming trials notebook


July 10, 2004|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Get ready for another double dip from the North Baltimore Aquatic Club.

Michael Phelps goes after his third victory at the U.S. Olympic team trials tonight, in the 200-meter butterfly. One of the women's finals is the 200-meter individual medley, and Katie Hoff appears ready to make that the second event she'll swim in Athens.

On Wednesday, the two swept the 400 IMs. Riding a wave of confidence, Hoff awoke yesterday with a personal best of 2 minutes, 15.26 seconds in the shorter race, which requires less endurance and more strength.

Hoff was the fastest among 60 women in the preliminaries, when she posted a 2:13.50. She won her semifinal in 2 minutes, 12.55 seconds, which makes her the fifth-fastest American ever in the event. Amanda Beard won the second semifinal in 2:12.02.

The final appears to be a two-person race that will threaten Summer Sanders' American record of 2:11.91. Beard was in Hoff's position eight years ago, a kid of 14 who won both breaststrokes at the Atlanta Olympics. Hoff, who turned 15 last month, was 7 at the time, and she really wasn't paying attention.

"I have a vague remembrance of her being young, and her [teddy] bear," Hoff said.

After her commanding win Wednesday, Hoff is playing with house money.

"Once I made the team, I was able to relax and enjoy all of this," Hoff said. "Tonight, I just felt so relaxed. I was able to just smile and have some fun."

Beard qualified shortly after winning the 100 breaststroke. Beth Botsford, another 1996 Olympic champ, took sixth in the 100 backstroke behind Natalie Coughlin. The Timonium native resides in Tucson, Ariz., but remembers when she was in Hoff's shoes at the NBAC.

"I don't want to hear anyone say that Katie's a good `young' swimmer. She's a great swimmer, period," Botsford said. "You don't get through the program there without being an incredibly hard worker. I know."

Krayzelburg second

The emotional highlight of the evening came in the men's 100 backstroke. Aaron Peirsol, who'll be an obstacle for Phelps in the 200 backstroke Monday, won in 53.64 seconds. The runner-up got more attention. Lenny Krayzelburg, the American swimming star of the 2000 Olympics, was seeded fifth but touched second.

"I'm just happy to be a part of it and to be going to Athens," said Krayzelburg, who has undergone three shoulder surgeries and needs a fourth.

Krayzelburg's family fled religious persecution in Ukraine, and settled in a Jewish enclave in Southern California. Four years ago in Sydney, where he won three gold medals, Krayzelburg was a major influence on Phelps.

"I was watching the scoreboard, cheering him on all the way," Phelps said. "He was one of the guys I looked up to in Sydney, to see how he reacted to the environment and prepared."

Sandeno stays busy

Kaitlin Sandeno, the former Southern California star who finished second to Hoff on Wednesday night, is the second seed in tonight's 200 freestyle final. She already has won the 400 freestyle, and she's also entered in the 200 butterfly and 800 freestyle. That's one fewer event than Phelps will swim here.

"It doesn't seem like that big a deal," Sandeno said. "I've been training my whole life to swim more than two events. In some, I don't have a chance to make the team. Everyone's all excited for Michael, but this is something that I do at every meet."

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