By John Lohn
Photos by Peter H. Bick
MONTREAL, Canada, July 30. AFTER her overwhelming victory earlier in the week in the metric mile, the United States’ Kate Ziegler was a near lock for the gold medal in the 800 free. Certainly, she didn’t disappoint. Considered America’s top distance freestyler since Janet Evans ruled the world in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Ziegler blistered a time of 8:25.31.
Ziegler took the race out quickly, splitting 2:03.53 at the 200-meter mark and 4:10.43 at the 400-meter interval. She maintained her sizable advantage through the last half of the race and touched the wall more than two seconds ahead of Canada’s Brittany Reimer. Cheered mightily by the Montreal crowd, Reimer was timed in 8:27.59 for silver. It was her second medal of this competition, joining the bronze she won in the 1,500 free.
Japan’s Ai Shibata, the reigning Olympic champion, settled for the bronze medal in 8:27.86, placing in front of Switzerland’s Flavia Rigamonti. The Swiss was the silver-medal winner in the metric mile and placed ahead of Romania’s Camelia Potec, who checked in with a time of 8:34.40. The sixth through eighth-place finishers were Spain’s Erika Villaecija (8:36.34), Great Britain’s Rebecca Cooke (8:37.98) and Germany’s Jana Henke (8:38.23).