PHOENIX, Arizona, February 6. SIX years ago this month, Speedo introduced the LZR Racer to the world, and a new era in swimming was born. The suit was the first to feature polyurethane panels that increased buoyancy and had everyone clamoring for one once it made its on-deck debut in the United States at the Missouri Grand Prix.
Records are rarely set at in-season meets, especially in February. But once the Grand Prix concluded, we witnessed two world records at the meet. Speedo made sure to tell the world that both records were set in the new LZR suits, setting off a wave of popularity that would usher in the high-tech suit era of 2008 and 2009.
Unfortunately, videos of those world record swims do not exist online, but we do have another great race that seriously threatened a world standard. Katie Hoff had the crowd on its feet on February 16, 2008, as she went after the illustrious American record of 4:03.85 in the 400 long course freestyle. That time was swum by Janet Evans on her way to winning the gold medal at the 1988 Olympics, and from the start, the 18-year-old Hoff stayed ahead of record pace to post an incredible 4:02.20. Though PA announcer Sam Kendricks was keeping the crowd updated on American record splits, Hoff was dangerously close to Laure Manaudou’s world record of 4:02.13.
Here’s what Swimming World wrote about the race six years ago:
Mizzou nearly had the chance to brag that they witnessed two world records in the span of an hour as Katie Hoff went ballistic in the middle distance event. She obliterated the American record of Janet Evans (4:03.85 set in 1988), which is the oldest record on the American books, when she joined Laure Manaudou in the 4:02 club with a 4:02.20.
Manaudou holds the world record with a ridiculously fast time of 4:02.13 set on Aug. 6, 2006. Hoff definitely is making a statement as she stopped the clock just .07 behind the French superstar.
Hoff’s splits were as follows:
28.71, 30.09, 30.53, 30.36, 30.20, 30.50, 30.93, 30.88.
Hoff’s time would stand as the American record for more than four years, until Allison Schmitt’s 4:01.77 at the 2012 Olympics.
Watch the video of Hoff’s great swim – featuring fun commentary from the owners of the video – and come back next week for another Throwback Thursday video from another great race from the Missouri Grand Prix!