Olympians win national titles; Hoff finishes 6thINDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Ryan Lochte held off hard-charging Tyler Clary to win the 400-meter individual medley at the U.S. national championships Tuesday night, leading a parade of Olympians who qualified for the world meet later this month.
By: BETH HARRIS, Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Ryan Lochte held off hard-charging Tyler Clary to win the 400-meter individual medley at the U.S. national championships Tuesday night, leading a parade of Olympians who qualified for the world meet later this month.
Lochte and Clary made it a two-man race to the wall, with Lochte touching first in 4 minutes, 6.40 seconds. Clary, who swims at Michigan, finished in 4:06.96.
"My coach said I swam that race better than I ever swam it before," Lochte said. "It's right around my best time. I know I can go a lot faster at worlds."
He rallied past Clary on the final turn.
"I knew the fly we were dead even and the backstroke he pulled away because I kept on looking at the monitor, and I knew I shouldn't have been doing that," Lochte said. "I was looking at it and I knew my breaststroke was stronger than his. I just tried to save as much energy as possible and saved it for that freestyle."
Katie Hoff supplied the only surprise on opening night of the five-day meet. The Olympic silver medalist faded to sixth in the 400 freestyle, her latest disappointing result since the Beijing Games.
"She got behind and it's just not there," her new coach Bob Bowman said. "Katie's been struggling physically. She's still not right but she's going to step up and try to do a better 200 (free)."
Hoff declined to speak with reporters after the race in which she finished more than 10 seconds off her personal best. Asked how she was doing, Bowman replied, "Not too well right now."
Three weeks ago, a virus prevented Hoff from competing in Santa Clara, Calif. She needed a week to rest and recover, and Bowman said the time off was a setback. She switched to Bowman after winning the silver and two bronze medals in Beijing, not exactly the golden showing she been predicted to deliver.
Except for Hoff, Olympians dominated with the world championships looming nearly a year after Beijing.
Michael Phelps had the night off before swimming his first two events Wednesday.
Along with Lochte, Christine Magnuson, Peter Vanderkaay, Julia Smit, Mark Gangloff and Allison Schmitt all earned trips to Rome by winning titles. Smit and Gangloff set American records.
Magnuson won the 100 butterfly, touching first in 57.15 seconds at the Indiana University Natatorium. She was the silver medalist in Beijing.
"I think I can be better at worlds, which is exciting," she said. "I know I can clean that up a little bit. I'm on the team, so I'm happy."
Vanderkaay held off 20-year-old training partner Daniel Madwed to win the 400 freestyle in 3:45.17. Vanderkaay, who was fourth in Beijing, was under American record pace through the first 350 meters.
Madwed, who trains at Michigan, hugged the lane line and drafted off Vanderkaay throughout, but he couldn't catch him down the stretch and finished second in 3:47.24.
"Dan is a great asset to have on the team," Vanderkaay said. "We go at it every day. It's fun to train with him and race with him."
Dana Vollmer finished second to Magnuson in 57.32, putting herself in line for a trip to Rome. Olympian Elaine Breeden was third in 57.46.
Smit set an American record in the 200 individual medley, winning in 2:09.34. She lowered the mark of 2:09.71 set by Hoff at last year's U.S. Olympic trials.
"My best time coming into this was a 2:12, so I dropped three seconds," she said. "I didn't swim it last summer, so I knew I was ready for a big drop."
Elizabeth Pelton, a 16-year-old who trains at the same North Baltimore club as Phelps and Hoff, was under world record pace through the opening 100 meters. She held on for second in 2:10.03.
"That heat was one of the more stacked fields," said Paul Yetter, Hoff's former coach who oversees Pelton. "With the race on the line, she's going to gut it out."
Hoff, who turned 20 last month, was once in Pelton's position, a young, rising star who burst onto swimming's big stage at the 2005 world meet.
"Katie knows that new faces come up and now she's in a different role," Bowman said. "She's going to have to decide if she wants to fight back and I think she will."
Dagny Knutson, a 17-year-old up-and-comer from Minot, N.D., was second early in the 200 IM before fading to fourth.
"It was really hard for me. I had gone out really fast in the first half, so I was hurting pretty bad on the last 50, but I gave it all I had," she said. "It's just a good experience on your first day and seeing what the atmosphere is like."
Gangloff and fellow Olympian Eric Shanteau dueled in the 100 breaststroke. Gangloff flirted with the world mark before winning in an American-record time of 59.01, fastest in the world this year.
"I've been knocking on that barrier for so long, it feels good to bust on through," he said.
It was Gangloff's first sub-minute performance, making him the third American man to go under a minute in the event. Shanteau was the second to do so in the morning preliminaries. Gangloff lowered Brendan Hansen's 2006 record of 59.13. Shanteau was timed in 59.45.
Schmitt qualified for her first world championships by winning the 400 free in 4:06.77. She wore one of the newer Jaked suits for the first time, switching from her usual Speedo LZR.
Chloe Sutton, an Olympic open water swimmer, was second.
Hoff finished sixth in 4:12.34, well off her personal best of 4:02.20.