By John Lohn
MELBOURNE, Australia, March 26. STILL just a 17-year-old, Katie Hoff is already a two-time world champion in the 200 individual medley. Producing a stellar performance, the North Baltimore Aquatic Club standout made a run at the long-standing world record before settling for a championship record of 2:10.13, better than the 2:10.41 she posted in Montreal two years ago.
Hoff was under world-record pace at the 150-meter mark by .78, but couldn't quite get to the 2:09.72 of China's Wu Yanyan from 1997. That record is considered drug-tainted and arrived during a period when the Chinese were regularly doping their athletes. Hoff split 28.35 at the 50, 1:01.96 at the 100 and 1:39.06 at the 150. Her time was just off her American mark of 2:10.05, but worthy of a celebration.
"I'll talk to my coach (Paul Yetter), talk to my parents, talk to my friends," she said. "And then
they've got fantastic dessert in our hotel. I don't know what it is yet. Hopefully something with chocolate."
The silver medal for the second consecutive World Champs went to Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry, who recorded a time of 2:10.76. Coventry was slightly ahead of Hoff at the midpoint of the race, but fell behind by nearly a second when Hoff dominated on the breaststroke leg. The bronze medal was won by Aussie Stephanie Rice, who touched the wall in 2:11.42. American Whitney Myers, the third-fastest performer in history, was fourth in 2:13.73.