Hoff takes down Olympian Beard for win in 200 IM

She finishes in 2:12.06 for second trials victory

personal best for Kalisz

Swimming

July 11, 2004|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

LONG BEACH, Calif. - For those of you keeping score at home, it's 8-5, with the rest of the U.S. leading the North Baltimore Aquatic Club.

Through four nights and 13 finals at the U.S. Team Trials for swimming, there have been only two multiple winners. Michael Phelps has owned half of the men's events, and Katie Hoff became the first women's double-winner with a surprise title in the 200-meter individual medley last night.

Four mornings ago and five weeks past her 15th birthday, Hoff was a scared kid in her first race here on Wednesday morning. She lived up to her advance billing with a win in the 400 IM later that day. Buoyed by that title, Hoff performed like a cagey international veteran last night.

A home-schooler who moved from Williamsburg, Va., to Abingdon last summer to join the NBAC's Harford satellite team, Hoff anticipated that Amanda Beard, the 100 breaststroke champion Thursday, would come on during the third leg here.

"We knew that the only way that Katie had a chance to win was to be even after the breaststroke, and turn it into a 50-meter race," said Paul Yetter, her coach.

Hoff actually thought that Beard led off the 150 wall. Hoff did, but briefly lost the advantage on the final turn. No problem. She collected herself and pounded Beard through the freestyle, winning in 2 minutes, 12.06 seconds. Hoff seemed to be hyperventilating after she touched first, but was composed throughout the race.

"I just kept thinking, if I could keep kind of even with her after the breaststroke, I could come home strong."

Hoff moved from No. 5 to No. 4 on the American all-time list, and lowered the personal best she had posted in the semifinals, 2:12.55. Beard had put up the world's fastest time of the year, 2:12.02, in that round, but she was unable to match that, slowing to 2:12.43. Summer Sanders' American record is 2:11.91.

Beard, 22, was already headed to her third Olympics. Any advice for Hoff?

"She did tell me how awesome the crowd would be at the Olympics," Hoff said. "It would be nice to talk to her, because she has the experience of going to the Olympics at a young age. It's kind of a dream come true. I hope I don't wake up anytime soon."

Jenny Thompson, 31, is headed to her fourth Olympics, but the standard youth movement is afoot here, as Hoff enjoyed the success of her training partner and a long-distance friend.

Courtney Kalisz of the NBAC was the youngest competitor last night, as the 14-year-old who'll enter the ninth grade at Fallston High was 11th fastest in the semifinals of the 200 butterfly, in a personal best of 2:12.90.

"It's amazing," Kalisz said, of advancing to the night session and racing in front of nearly 10,000. "It's bigger than I expected."

The 200 freestyle went to Dana Vollmer, a 16-year-old Texan.

"She's a great friend," Hoff said. "I met her a couple of months ago, and we've been talking back and forth. I'm so happy for her tonight. I want to hang out with her in Athens."

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