Katie Hoff going to worlds

Michael Phelps wins 100 butterfly

August 21, 2010|By Tribune Newspapers

IRVINE, Calif. — So what if Katie Hoff found out she was on the World Championship team in the 400-meter freestyle by land, not by water?

Hoff, who was raised in Towson, had to watch two agonizing heats of the 400 freestyle Friday night at the Pan Pacific Championships hoping that her time from the recent U.S. nationals would hold up.

It did. Barely.

Hoff won the 400 free earlier this month in 4 minutes, 5.50 seconds but did not make it out of the morning heats here. Two Americans would have to put down better times to knock her off the World squad, and only the winner, Chloe Sutton did so, going 4:05.19. The closest call came from Hoff's teammate Kate Ziegler, who went 4:05.52 to win the B Final. Allison Schmitt was fourth in the A Final in 4:06.73.

Hoff joked later that she had finally stopped shaking. "Totally nervous," she said. "I knew it was going to be close but not two-hundredths close."

Clearly disappointed in the morning, she had spoken about the fact that she already had made the worlds -- on a relay.

"I'm saying that to myself to cushion the blow," Hoff said, smiling, adding that it was a far cry from last year, when she was seventh at nationals.

Michael Phelps of Fells Point, meanwhile, looked displeased after winning the 100 butterfly. He had little trouble, easing to victory in 50.86, a meet record.

Later he explained, more or less, why he looked so irritated, saying he wasn't happy with his first 50 meters.

"I was out faster than I was this morning," he said. "I don't think I was able to really build the kind of speed I wanted to going into the first turn.

"To be able to swim under 51 wasn't terrible, but I think I've always said there was a lot of little things I could work on, to improve on."

Phelps was a relay winner, too, as the Americans won the 400 freestyle in 3:11.74, a meet record. Australia was second, and South Africa took third. Phelps' opening leg of 48.12 also was a meet record.

Other winners included South Korean Tae-Hwan Park in the 400 freestyle, and Dana Vollmer and Christine Magnuson went one-two for the United States in the 100 butterfly.

Unfortunately, one of the more highly anticipated showdowns of the meet did not take place. The 200 backstroke was supposed to have been a tight contest between world-record holder Aaron Peirsol and Ryan Lochte.

Lochte won the 200 backstroke final in 1:54.12 to Tyler Clary's 1:54.90. But Peirsol was relegated to the B final because he was the third-fastest American in the morning heats. Here, only the top two from each country advance to the finals at night.

Unlike in the 100-meter backstroke, Peirsol did not get a reprieve. In the 100 backstroke, Lochte withdrew from the final, and Peirsol took advantage of the second chance and won the event at night.

"It certainly keeps you honest," Peirsol said of the format. "We knew what we were doing coming in. ... It was tough."

So Lochte and Clary will represent the United States in the 200 backstroke at next year's worlds.

Lochte has won three individual events at the Pan Pacs.

"I felt pretty controlled," he said. "I tried to hold back on my first 50 -- kind of learned from that mistake in the 400 IM."

He won despite smacking into the lane line near the end of the race, saying, "I was trying to stay in the middle, but it didn't work."

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