By Phillip Whitten
Photos by Peter Bick
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, April 5. KATIE Ziegler knows only one way to swim – all out. Earlier in the meet she held back on her first 100 meters of the 400 and wound up a disappointing third.
Tonight the 800 free was to be contested – Katie’s best shot for a spot on the USA World Championships team. It was do or die. So, throwing caution to the winds, Katie reverted to the strategy that seems to produce the best results for her: all out, all the way.
After just 50 meters, the 16 year-old representing The Fish already had a full second lead. She finished the first 100 meters in 1:00.87, more than a second and a half in front of Haley Peirsol.
At 200 meters, Ziegler led by 2.8 seconds. At 300 she’d stretched that out to 3.8 seconds. She turned at the halfway mark in 4:14.52, four seconds in front of unheralded Laura Conway, of Swim Macon and the University of Georgia, who had passed Peirsol at the 300.
‘Catch me if you can,” she seemed to be saying.
But no one could. Ziegler’s lead remained at four seconds through 500 meters, then 600.
After that Conway began nibbling away at Ziegler’s lead, cutting it to just over two seconds with 50 meters to go, even as Conway was pressed by Peirsol.
Ziegler, however, had plenty in reserve, speeding home to touch in 8:34.83. Conway followed in 8:37.56 with Peirsol registering the only other sub-8:40 swim with her 8:39.30.