AUBURN, Alabama, November 26. WITH the college season continuously heating up and the World Cup circuit shifting into high gear, there has been plenty of short-course action to whet the appetite. But, swimming fans will soon have a chance to catch high-level action in the long-course format, thanks to the upcoming U.S. Open at Auburn University. The competition is scheduled for Dec. 1-3 at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center and will feature more than 600 athletes.
Among the headlining names expected at the meet are American Katie Hoff and Pieter van den Hoogenband of the Netherlands, who missed last summer’s World Championships in Montreal after undergoing surgery for a hernia. At those World Champs, Hoff won gold in the 200 and 400 individual medley events, setting an American record in the shorter distance. Hoff also helped the U.S. to a gold medal in the 800 freestyle relay.
A seven-time Olympic medalist and champion in the 100 and 200 freestyles at the Sydney Games in 2000, van den Hoogenband is the world-record holder in the 100 free and the second-fastest performer in the history of the 200 free. At the 1999 U.S. Open, van den Hoogenband won championships in the 100 and 200 freestyles.
The University of Florida’s Ryan Lochte is another major name scheduled to compete on the men’s side. Lochte is a two-time Olympic medalist and won bronze medals at the World Championships in the 200 individual medley and 200 backstroke. He was also on the United States’ 800 freestyle relay that captured the gold medal.
Other Olympians slated to appear are the Ukraine’s Yana Klochkova, who won the 200 and 400 I.M. events at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics and Kirsty Coventry. From Zimbabwe, Coventry won four medals at the Montreal World Championships, going for double gold in the 100 and 200 backstrokes and taking silver in both individual medley disciplines.
The gold medalist in the 100 breaststroke at the Sydney Olympics, Megan Jendrick will race at Auburn, along with Maritza Correia, Margaret Hoelzer, Klete Keller, Tara Kirk, Scott Usher, Carly Piper, Dana Vollmer and Amanda Weir.