USA Swimming Grand Prix, Columbus: Katie Hoff, Peter Vanderkaay Almost Break U.S. Open Marks

COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 5. KATIE Hoff of North Baltimore kept up her strong year as she nearly broke the U.S. Open record in the women's 400 IM at the USA Swimming Grand Prix held in Columbus. Peter Vanderkaay also took a run at a U.S. Open standard.

Women's 400 IM
After having her world record in the event taken away by Stephanie Rice of Australia with a 4:31.46, Katie Hoff of North Baltimore put together a strong response in her first meet following the loss. Hoff, who owns the American record with a 4:32.89 that had previously stood as the global standard, posted a sterling time of 4:34.49 to win the event going away. She nearly surpassed Kirsty Coventry's U.S. Open record of 4:34.25 set in March.

The performance is the sixth-fastest ever in the event with Rice and Hoff's records in front as well as a 4:33.59 from Yana Klochkova and Coventry's 4:34.25. Hannah Miley posted a quicker time with a 4:33.24 at the British Championships today.

"It's been there ever since I had problems when I was young where I would take it out too fast and completely shut down," Hoff told the Associated Press. "From then on I've been really timid taking it out. A lot of my competitors take it out. I'm not going to be in the race if I don't take chances and take it out also. That was kind of what tonight was all about."

Kaitlin Sandeno of Club Wolverine snared second place with a time of 4:43.66, while Courtney Kalisz of North Baltimore took third in 4:47.36.

Men's 400 IM
Michael Phelps, who obviously is showing the wear and tear of a tough training schedule after falling asleep during prelims and deciding to pull out of the 400 free, still had enough in the tank to cruise to a gold medal in the men's 400 IM with a time of 4:13.73. The swim is three seconds slower than Phelps' best time this year. He clocked a 4:14.08 during the Missouri Grand Prix in February.

"I was kind of stretching, so … you could say I was stretching," Phelps joked with the Associated Press. "[Coach Bob Bowman] always gives me a hard time about not stretching. I was holding that stretch for at least 10 or 15 minutes. My legs were definitely stretched."

Club Wolverine-teammate Erik Vendt placed second behind him with a time of 4:17.07, while Pat Mellors finished third in 4:27.25. Vendt's time is among the top 10 in the world this year.

Women's 50 free
Natasha Moodie walked away with the sprint title when she hit the pad in 26.08 in the always exciting 50 free. Betsy Webb of New Trier and Andrea Hupman of Northwestern rounded out the top three as they tied for second with matching 26.21s. Ariana Vanderpool-Wallace of the Bolles took fourth in 26.33 as the top four all cleared the Olympic Trials cut.

Men's 50 free
After watching fellow Tiger Cesar Cielo steal his thunder as Mr. 18 in the 50-yard free while at Auburn, Fred Bousquet had something to say when the duo went head-to-head this evening.

Bousquet, the first man under 19 in the 50-yard free, Bousquet cleared his personal best in the 50-meter free with a winning time of 21.90. That cleared Bousquet's previous best of 21.99 set at the 2006 European Championships. The 21.90 moved Bousquet into the top 20 of all time.

Cielo, meanwhile, could not replicate his Brazilian record of 21.84 as he clocked a second-place time of 21.93. The time, which improved his preliminary effort of 21.99, is the second time under 22 this year for Cielo as his previous best this year was a 22.01 from the Missouri Grand Prix.

Gary Hall Jr. improved his top time this year with a third-place effort of 22.29, which cut his 22.36 time set at the Missouri Grand Prix.

Nearly the entire field cleared 23 as Alexei Puninski (22.58), Josh Schneider (22.81), George Bovell (22.83) and Matt Voelker (22.84) touched under 23.

Women's 200 breast
In a remarkably close finish, Ashley Danner of Sea Devil came out on top with a winning time of 2:35.56. She went out fast and held on to the lead as Alicia Aemisegger and Spindrift Beck came charging down the final 50.

Aemisegger claimed second with a time of 2:35.62, while Beck placed third in 2:35.86 as the trio all garnered Olympic Trials cuts.

Danner went out in 1:14.79, while Aemisegger (1:14.98) and Beck (1:15.42) trailed at the halfway mark.

Men's 200 breast
World-record holder Brendan Hansen got his mojo back after he took a few losses from training partner Eric Shanteau a month ago. After winning the 100 breast yesterday, Hansen came out on top of a brutal battle with Shanteau in the 200, 2:13.20 to 2:13.33.

Hansen posted splits of 30.43, 34.11, 34.53 and 34.13 on the way, while Shanteau split times of 30.77, 34.06, 35.85 and 36.80. Meanwhile, Elliott Keefer took third in 2:19.12. Notably, Erik Vendt made finals but was disqualified in the heat. He would have finished with a 2:20.46 for seventh if not for the DQ.

The times may not be close to the season bests set by Hansen (2:11.60) and Shanteau (2:10.59) in Austin, but the outcome should return some confidence to Hansen as he fights to remain the King of the Mountain in the breaststroke events.

Women's 100 back
Jenny Connolly of Boilermaker touched out Elizabeth Pelton of North Baltimore by the slimmest of margins, 1:01.99 to 1:02.00, as the duo put on a show. Connolly went out much faster with a 29.69 to her feet, while Pelton posted a 30.05 first half. Pelton's 31.95 coming home was not enough for Connolly's 32.30 back half.

Germantown's Teresa Crippen had a battle of her own with teammate Kate Riefenstahl as Crippen clipped her teammate, 1:03.11 to 1:03.15, for third place.

Men's 100 back
Longhorn owned the night in the men's 100 back with a 1-2 finish. World-record holder Aaron Peirsol demonstrated his ownership of the event with a time of 54.84, while teammate David Cromwell settled for second with a time of 55.26.

Tim Liebhold of SwimMAC-Carolina finished third in 56.70, while Matt Thompson of the Dallas Mustangs closed the sub-57 finishes with a fourth-place 56.84.

Women's 400 free
Kate Ziegler of The Fish won the middle distance event with a time of 4:07.27, about three seconds back of her season-best time of 4:04.86 set last month.

Allison Schmitt of Club Wolverine wound up taking second in a time of 4:11.72, while Carly Piper of SwimMAC-Carolina took third in 4:16.89. The Germantown duo of Teresa Crippen (4:17.13) and Kate Riefenstahl (4:21.19) rounded out the top five.

Men's 400 free
Peter Vanderkaay of Club Wolverine became the second-fastest American all time in the event with a time of 3:44.41. While he came up short of Klete Keller's American record time of 3:44.11, he moved ahead of Erik Vendt's 3:44.56.

That performance made Vanderkaay the sixth-fastest of all time in the event as he jumped in front of Yury Prilukov's 3:44.44. Vanderkaay also came up just short of Keller's U.S. Open standard of 3:44.19 set in 2004.

Future Wolverine Dan Madwed of North Baltimore placed second with a time of 3:54.99, while George Markovic of Ohio State took third in 3:56.93.

Relays
North Baltimore's quartet of Elizabeth Pelton, Andi Staub, Felicia Lee and Katie Hoff won the women's 400 medley relay in 4:12.05. Ohio State's team of Justin Farra, Felipe Travesso, Andrew Bretscher and Matt Voelker claimed the men's 400 medley relay in 3:47.06.

Brendan Hansen wins200 Breaststroke at 2008 Toyota Grand Prix at OSU.

Fred Bousquet wins 50 Free at 2008 Toyota Grand Prix at OSU.

Michael Phelps wins 400 IM at 2008 Toyota Grand Prix at OSU.

Katie Hoff wins 400 IM at 2008 Toyota Grand Prix at OSU.

Peter Vanderkaay 400 Freestyle at 2008 Toyota Grand Prix at OSU.

Jenny Connolly wins 100 backstroke at 2008 Toyota Grand Prix at OSU.

Ashley Danner wins 200 Breaststroke at 2008 Toyota Grand Prix at OSU.

Natasha Moodie wins 50 Free at 2008 Toyota Grand Prix at OSU.