AUBURN, Alabama, November 30. WITH the start of the U.S. Open less than 24 hours away, let’s take a look at some of the intriguing matchups or storylines that should surface at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center, on the campus of Auburn University. With several Olympians and world champions in the field, the competition should provide some top-flight performances.
Women’s I.M. Events: The 200 and 400 individual medley races could be considered the highlights of the weekend as Katie Hoff and Kirsty Coventry are expected to rekindle their duel from the World Championships in Montreal. At that meet, Hoff edged Coventry in both finals. Adding to the appeal of the events is the anticipated participation of Yana Klochkova, the double Olympic champ from 2000 and 2004.
Men’s 200 Freestyle: Sidelined by hernia surgery and forced to miss the World Championships, Pieter van den Hoogenband will get back at it. Hoogie will find some difficult competition from the likes of Klete Keller and Ryan Lochte, both members of the United States’ gold-medal winning 800 free relay at the Athens Olympics.
Men’s 50 Freestyle: There has been considerable hype surrounding North Carolina State’s Cullen Jones in the sprints, particularly after his win in the 50 free at the World University Games. Well, this is another chance for Jones to shine in the long-course realm. Recently, Jones scorched a short-course yardage time of 19.35, tops in the nation this year.
Women’s 100 Breaststroke: This event will match Tara Kirk and Megan Jendrick, two of the elite breaststrokers in the American arsenal and a pair of Olympians. Jendrick, of course, won gold in the 100 breast at the Sydney Games while Kirk is coming off a World Champs in which she claimed bronze in the 100 distance.
Women’s 200 Butterfly: Both under the tutelage of Paul Yetter at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, Katie Hoff and Courtney Kalisz will square off in the distance fly. By swimming this event and the 100 fly, Hoff is keeping to her plan of attacking a more varied schedule. She is also slated to contest the 200 freestyle.