By John Lohn
OMAHA, Nebraska, July 4. WILL it be Margaret Hoelzer? Will it be Elizabeth Beisel. Or, will Hayley McGregory finally see her bad luck at the Olympic Trials come to an end? The answer will be delivered tomorrow night when the aforementioned trio returns to the Qwest Center and battles it out in the 200 backstroke.
Beisel, the 15-year-old rising star who has already punched a Beijing ticket in the 400 individual medley, led the semifinalists in the final of the four-lap backstroke. Beisel was in command of her race from the get-go and finished in a time of 2:07.78, just off the 2:07.44 she registered during her preliminary heat in the morning.
McGregory will be the second seed for the final, thanks to a semifinal performance of 2:08.28. Third place in both backstrokes at the 2004 Olympic Trials, McGregory was third earlier this week in the 100 back and will be trying to avoid a repeat. She took her semifinal race out strong and will likely follow the same strategy tomorrow.
Hoelzer, the reigning world champion and American-record holder, finished second to Beisel in her semifinal. Hoelzer looked very comfortable and turned in a time of 2:09.04. Hoelzer is already bound for China in the 100 backstroke. She was followed in the fourth position by Katie Riefenstahl, who stopped the clock in 2:10.78.
The fifth-place qualifier for the 200 backstroke was Kristen Heiss, who was timed in 2:10.89. Sixth went to Mary DeScenza in 2:11.30 and seventh and eighth went to Teresa Crippen (2:11.34) and Morgan Scroggy (2:11.36).
Video Footage Removed Due to NBC Restrictions
Go to Swimming World's 2008 Olympics Landing Page for the most comprehensive coverage of the meet on the Internet.