By Phillip Whitten
Photos by Peter Bick
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, April 4. Our swimInfo colleague, John Lohn, called this race after the morning prelims.
“It’s going to be Hoelzer and Hoff going one-two in the 200 back tonight,” he proclaimed with bold audacity.
Well, the Hoelzer part of the equation was hardly the stuff of courageous, in-your-face predictions. After all, Margaret Hoelzer – a 2004 US Olympian in this event – was clearly the class of the field, qualifying more than two seconds faster than her nearest pursuer.
The Hoff part, however, was a horse of a different color. True, Katie had won both IMs, setting an American record in the 200, and she was the surprise winner of the 200 free. But backstroke was not her forte and she barely managed to sneak into the A final, qualifying eighth.
In the final, Hoelzer wasted no time in establishing her credentials and shattering any illusions of an upset. Her 30.80 was more than a second faster than anyone else, as Jessica Hayes followed in 31.90, the only other swimmer under 32 seconds. Hoff had the slowest reaction time, was last at the breakout and last to the wall in 32.74 seconds.
Hoelzer kept building her lead, turning at the 100 in 1:03.23, with Hayes a distant second in 1:05.35. Hoff, meanwhile had dug herself out of the basement and turned in 1:06.29, in sixth place.
The third lap saw Hoelzer double her lead to four full seconds over Hayes, but over in lane 8, Hoff had moved up to fourth, only half a second behind Hayes.
Hoelzer cruised home and touched in 2:10.42, the easiest winner thus far in Indy, then she watched the slugfest for the second spot.
Six young women touched almost simultaneously, but when the electronic clock had sorted it all out, Katie Hoff had gotten to the wall just a fingernail ahead of the rest in 2:14.83. Jeri Moss, who made the team in the 100 back, was next in 2:14.86, followed by Haley Chura at 2:14.92, Leah Retrum at 2:14.94, Julia Smit at 2:14.97 and Jessica Hayes at 2:15.04.
Our man, John Lohn – okay, Nostradamus – where were you when I was entering the office pool for the NCAA basketball tournament?