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Published: Thursday, 7/3/2008

Hoff wins double, setting 2 U.S. records at Olympic trials

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Katie Hoff swims to a first-place finish and an American record in the women's 200-meter freestyle final at the U.S. trials. Katie Hoff swims to a first-place finish and an American record in the women's 200-meter freestyle final at the U.S. trials.
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OMAHA - 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 last night - and 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 400 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 glaring Olympic spotlight.

In the 200 IM, Coughlin jumped way ahead on the butterfly and backstroke legs, but Hoff rallied on the breaststroke and freestyle to win in 2:09.71, improving on Coughlin's American record of 2:09.77 set less than a month ago.

Making the win even more impressive, Hoff already had won the 200 freestyle in 1:55.88, beating her own U.S. record of

1:56.08 in that event.

Afterward, Coughlin leaned over and gave her younger rival an affectionate pat on the cap.

"She's a stud for doing the 200 free-200 IM double," Coughlin said. "That's an incredibly tough double, and I don't know of another female swimmer who could do it so successfully."

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 rival Kosuke Kitajima's world record in today's final.

Phelps looked a bit dejected after just missing his world

record in the 200 fly, but not to worry. The most important races are about a month away.

Phelps pulled away after the final flip to win in 1:52.20 - just 11-hundredths over the mark of 1:52.09 he set while winning seven gold medals at last year's world championships.

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.



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