By John Lohn
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., March 27. IN keeping with our previews of the World Championship Trials, scheduled to begin Friday, the women’s backstroke events are next on the docket. Of the four available berths, one is a lock. Otherwise, consider the dorsal events to be wide open among the ladies.
The only woman in history to crack the one-minute barrier, Natalie Coughlin will own the 100 backstroke in Indy. She has ridiculously distanced herself from the competition in the two-lap event, but her decision to bypass the 200 distance creates major opportunities for other Americans.
At last summer’s Olympic Trials, Hayley McGregory found herself in third place in the 100 and 200 back events. This time around, will McGregory earn her chance at major international glory? Well, she’s definitely capable.
The fifth-place finisher at the Athens Games in the 200 back, Margaret Hoelzer will be in the mix in the longer distance and is also expected to make a run at the shorter discipline. Meanwhile, Brielle White is another contender in the 100.
More so than the 100 back, the 200 distance has greater depth and a pair of rising stars who could strengthen the United States’ prowess in the event. In addition to Hoelzer, Kristen Caverly was the other United States representative in Athens and could make a run at another invitation to international waters.
Kaitlin Sandeno could also make some noise in the event. During a conference call Monday, Sandeno indicated that there is a possibility she might contest the 200 back. If that scenario unfolds, she certainly will be in contention.
Then there’s the tandem of Teresa Crippen and Courtney Kalisz. During the past few weeks, Crippen and Kalisz have each registered NAG records in the 13-and-14 division. After Crippen lowered the 200-yard record of former Olympic gold medalist Beth Botsford in New York, Kalisz took the mark lower at the Maryland State Championships. Each is capable of another breakthrough, this time on a bigger stage.
Finally, Katie Hoff could be in the mix, provided she swims the event. The premier youngster among the American contingent, Hoff’s versatility could allow her to make a run at a World Championship bid in the 200 back.