By John Lohn
OMAHA, Nebraska, July 2. THIS girl is something else. It's one thing to try to tackle the 200 freestyle and 200 individual medley double. It's another thing entirely to pull it off, which is exactly what Katie Hoff accomplished Wednesday night. Making it all the more impressive was Hoff turning in American-record times in both events.
Having won the 200 free 49 minutes earlier, Hoff erased an early deficit to Natalie Coughlin and a late deficit to Ariana Kukors and won the 200 IM with a domestic record of 2:09.71. The time bettered the 2:09.77 set by Coughlin at the Janet Evans Invitational in early June. Hoff was 1.61 seconds behind Coughlin at the 100-meter mark, but moved ahead on the breaststroke leg.
Heading into the final 50, Hoff was .02 behind Kukors, also a superb breaststroker. However, Hoff went to her reserves and pulled away on the freestyle leg. Coughlin managed to reel in Kukors in the final strokes and took second place with a time of 2:10.32. Kukors produced a swim of 2:10.40, a personal best. Hoff has now won the 200 and 400 freestyles and both individual medley events this week. She still has the 100 and 800 freestyles to come.
"My breaststroke kind of got away from me a little," Coughlin said. "I never felt like I got a rhythm. Katie Hoff is a stud for doing the 200 free-200 IM double. That is an incredibly tough double. I don't know any female swimmer who can do it so successfully."
Rising teenager Caitlin Leverenz was the fourth-place finisher in 2:11.28 and Whitney Myers, the 2006 Pan Pacific champion, was fifth in 2:12.41. The top eight was rounded out by Ava Ohlgren (2:12.99), Dagny Knutson (2:13.91) and Kaitlin Sandeno (2:15.87). For Sandeno, it was her last chance at an Olympic bid.
"I wish I'd swam a little more successfully," said the two-time Olympian. "I guess I really did love it. These are tears of a chapter in my life that began when I was six and is now closing. I would've loved for my last meet to be the Olympics, but that's almost too good to be true. It's time."
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.