Katie Hoff Breaks Natalie’s 200 IM Mark at North Baltimore Xmas Invite, Phelps Continues to Amaze

By John Lohn

BALTIMORE, Maryland, December 13. CONSIDERING his summer exploits – all those world titles and record-breaking swims – it's a tough task to upstage the incomparable Michael Phelps. But, for one night, it may have happened.

While Phelps zipped to three victories Friday night, during the first evening of competition at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club's Christmas Invitational at Loyola College, Katie Hoff was the headliner.

A 14-year-old, Hoff smashed the 13-and-14-year-old age group record in the 200 individual medley, clocking 1:58.27 in the final, a race that featured Marianne Limpert, a three-time Olympian from Canada.

Hoff, who hit the wall in 1:59.01 in the morning prelims, broke the record of, ho-hum, Natalie Coughlin, the Cal star who is, perhaps, the finest all-around female swimmer in the world. Coughlin went 1:59.83 in 1997.

Representing NBAC Hoff, who broke the 13-and-14-year-old record in the 200-meter I.M. last week at the U.S. Open, also won the 100 breast at the NBAC meet, going 1:02.26.

While Hoff was dazzling, Phelps continued his awe-inspiring performances, claiming victories in the 200 freestyle, 200 I.M. and 100 butterfly. The NBAC phenom, who will chase Mark Spitz's seven Olympic golds in Athens next summer, went 1:33.82 in the 200 free and 1:44.57 in the 200 I.M. For good measure, he added a 46.88 effort in the 100 fly.

Hoff and Phelps also led off NBAC victories in the 400 freestyle relay. Hoff opened up in 50.51 as NBAC won the 13-14-year-old relay in 3:32.00. Phelps went 44.27 as NBAC won the open relay with Jamie Barone, Cory Knopp and Kevin Clements.

Kevin Clements, with designs of his own on a trip to Athens in the 200 I.M., won the open 100 breast for NBAC, going 55.33. Clements also finished second to Phelps in the 200 free (1:40.99) and 200 I.M. (1:49.60).

Limpert won the open 200 free among women in 1:48.23 while Emily Goetsch took the 100 fly in 54.28. Meghan Sackett and Knopp won the 1,000-yard freestyle races in the open division.

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