By John Lohn
OMAHA, Nebraska, July 1. WHEN the United States arrives in Beijing, it will be the favorite for gold in the 800 freestyle relay. The process to figure out which individuals will compete on that relay began with the preliminaries of the 200 freestyle. One name missing was Natalie Coughlin, who opted to bypass the event and contest the 200 individual medley. Still, Coughlin is the likely choice to be the leadoff swimmer for the American squad.
Not surprisingly, American-record holder Katie Hoff led the morning qualifying, which featured all 16 semifinalists cracking the two-minute mark. To put that into perspective, only five of the finalists from the 2004 Trials managed to break two minutes. Hoff, racing the last of 14 heats, touched the wall in 1:57.72, good for a Trials record. She's already won the 400 individual medley and 200 freestyle.
Hoff's time beat out a long-standing meet record previously held by Nicole Haislett since 1992. Haislett touched in 1:58.64 to qualify for Barcelona.
Here is a look back to 1992 with our Swimming World Magazine report on Nicole Haislett's record swim. This article appeared in the April 1992 edition of the publication.
The third-place finisher in the 400 freestyle, Allison Schmitt qualified in the No. 2 position behind a time of 1:58.76. The 18-year-old is a rising star in the middle-distance freestyles and was followed into the semifinal round by Caroline Burckle (1:59.09), Julia Smit (1:59.18) and Christine Marshall (1:59.31). Burckle was fourth in the 400 freestyle.
Kara Lynn Joyce, a 2004 Olympian, grabbed the sixth spot for the semifinals, going 1:59.39 and Kim Vandenberg (1:59.41) and Erin Reilly (1:59.66) were right behind. Also advancing to the semifinals were Chelsea Nauta (1:59.73), Dana Vollmer (1:59.76), Kate Dwelley (1:59.79), Katie Riefenstahl (1:59.85), Lacey Nymeyer (1:59.85), Jessica Rodriquez (1:59.94), Katie Carroll (1:59.95) and Elizabeth Beisel (1:59.98).
"It's different walking in after not making the team," Vollmer said. "It definitely motivates me more, and it's like that extra gear just kicks in and makes it that much easier."
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.