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Short Course World Champs, Day 5: Sweden's Lillhage Out-touches Benko to Take the 200 Free -- October 11, 2004

INDIANAPOLIS, October 11. LIKE her teammate and fellow US co-captain, Indiana's Lindsay Benko, 28, is retiring after this meet. Revered in her home state of Indiana, the short course world record-holder over 200 and 400 meters freestyle, hoped to end her career with a memorable victory.

She came oh so close, battling first Australia's Shayne Reese and then Sweden's Josefin Lillhage down to the wire, before losing by a touch to the swift Swede.

Benko led the race for only a few meters, but she was always in contention. Reese took the first 50 out in 27.18 seconds, with Benko well back in second at 27.54 and 17 year-old teammate Dana Vollmer third at 27.72.

At the 100 meter turn, Reese had given up only a hundredth of a second, turning in 5657 to Benko's 56.92 with Lillhage moving into third in 57.17, two-tenths ahead of Vollmer.

To the delight of the highly partisan crowd, Benko made her move on the third 50, cutting Reese's lead to just 12-hundredths of a second, 1:26.65-1:26.77, but Lillhage, too, was moving up, turning third in 1:26.91, while Vollmer lagged a full second off the pace.

Benko surged ahead on the seventh lap as the crowd roared. A fading Reese was quickly overtaken by Lillhage, and at the final wall, the two women turned as one.

They went at each other stroke-for-stroke down the last 25 meters, but the Swede had a perfect finish and came up golden in 1:56.35, with Benko following in 1:56.48. Vollmer, sensing Reese was tiring, came from behind to nip the Aussie for the bronze, 1:58.05 to 1:58.14.