By Phillip Whitten
SANTA CLARA, Calif., May 22. WORLD record-holders Michael Phelps, Aaron Peirsol, Natalie Coughlin and Tara Kirk all set outstanding meet records on the third day of the 37th Santa Clara International Swim Meet at the Gorge Haines Aquatic Center in Santa Clara. But arguably the best performance of all was turned in by 14 year-old Katie Hoff of the North Baltimore Swim Club.
In the day’s first event, the talented, fearless Hoff blasted the meet record in the 400 IM by almost five seconds, as she swam a sizzling 4:39.82. the old mark, which had lasted 12 years, was 4:44.41 by none other than Summer Sanders. Hoff’s time, incidentally, was a girls’ 13-14 national age group record.
Hoff took the lead at the start and just kept putting open wataer between herself and an outstanding field, eventually whipping Sara McLarty by almost eight seconds and Kaitlin Sandeno by almost nine.
Michael Phelps swam two superb races, winning one and finishing second in the other. In the 100m fly, he overcame a slight lead at the 50 by world record-holder Ian Crocker, 24.97 to 25.08, to finish in 52.39 seconds, with Crocker nipping at his heels in 52.56.
Phelps owned the old meet record of 52.65 set last year.
Just as in the 100 fly, the 200 back pitted the two fastest men in history: Aaron Peirsol and Phelps. This time, however, despite an outstanding effort by Phelps, he did not get his hand on the wall first. That achievement was Peirsol, who shaved three-hundredths off his own meet mark set last year with an eye-popping 1:56.95. Phelps followed in 1:57.58.
0:57.53 (29.62) 0:58.23 (29.58)
1:27.43 (29.90) 1:28.18 (29.95)
1:56.95 (29.52) 1:57.58 (29.40)
Natalie Coughlin, who is showing every sign of having an even better year than her 2002 season, where she won everything in sight, set a meet record of 1:59.99 in the prelims of the 200 free, breaking the old standard of 2:00.07 by Jenny Thompson back in 1996. She scratched the finals to concentrate on the 100 back.
Colleen Lanne went on to win the 200 free final in 2:01.94, outlasting Georgia freshman Kara Lynn Joyce, 2:02.27. Notably, Jessica Foschi swam 2:02.50 in prelims.
Coughlin went on to capture the 100 back in a swift 1:00.66 which, remarkably, did not break her meet mark. That record – 1:00.19 – set in 2002, will remain on the books. Finishing second was Coughlin’s former Cal teammate Haley Cope, who out-touched Hayley McGregory, 1:02.10 to 1:02.56.
Tara Kirk had a close call but managed to overtake 2000 Olympian Staci Stitts in the final 10 meters of the 100 meters breaststroke. After splitting 32.79 at the 50, behind Stitts’ 32.47, Kirk touched in a meet record 1:08.40. Stitts was a stroke behind in 1:08.62 as both women smashed Kirk’s meet mark of 1:09.26 from 2002. Megan Quann, defending Olympic champion, took the bronze today by one-hundredth over Kristy Kowal, 1:09.95 to 1:09.96.
Another swimmer lowering his own meet record was Club Wolverine’s Klete Keller. The 2000 bronze medalist and former American record-holder, Keller jammed the pads in 3:51.40 to take the 400 free and erase his own meet record of 3:53.18 from last year. Second today went to Canada’s Mark Johnston, 3:53.98, while third went to Keller’s Club Wolverine teammate, Peter Vanderkaay, 3:54.28.
There was a tie for the top spot in the men’s 50 free, as both Jason Lezak and Poland’s Bart Kizierowski touched simultaneously in 22.57, a quarter of a second slower than Kizierowski’s meet record from 2001. Gary Hall, Jr., finished third in 22.87.
The UBC Dolphin men set a meet mark in winning the 800m free relay in 7:21.38, breaking the old standard of 7:25.79 swum two years ago by the Canadian Dolphins. Club Wolverine’s 7:22.67 was also well under the former record.
The Dolphins made it a sweep by edging the Athens Bulldogs in the women’s 800 free relay, 8:19.31 to 8:20.71.
With one day left in the meet, the visiting Canadian UBC Dolphins have an insurmountable lead in the team battle with 546 points. The 2-3-4 places did not change either, but the fight to take the #2 spot will have to be settled tomorrow. After three days, Club Wolverine is second with 360 points, followed by Athens Bulldogs, 346, and Trojan Swim Club, 323.