By Candus Thomson and Kevin Van Valkenburg
April 7, 2008
Michael Phelps beat himself, shaving a tick off his best time in the 100-meter freestyle - an event in which he rarely competes - allowing him to retain the third-best mark for a U.S. swimmer.
It was that kind of meet, a pre-Olympic checkup in which Hoff and Phelps stretched themselves out, took stock and, with their coaches, made mental to-do lists in preparation for U.S. team trials in less than three months.
In her first event of the evening, Hoff lifted her gold-medal total for the meet to four with a win in the 100-meter freestyle (55.24 seconds), an event she's not known for but one she says she will swim at Olympic trials.
She came back to place second in the 200-meter butterfly (2 minutes, 11:03 seconds) behind Kaitlin Sandeno (2.10.75) and then ended the evening with her fifth gold as anchor of the North Baltimore Aquatic Club's 400-meter freestyle relay. Each time she hauled herself out of the pool became more of a chore.
"The 100 free at the end really hurt," Hoff said, referring to her leg of the 400 free relay. "But I was really happy that I came back faster than I did in the actual event. I'm happy to stay tough and finish it off well.
"Overall, I'm very pleased with how the weekend went. I actually got a couple best times out of it. That's always a good thing."
Her coach, Paul Yetter, said the ambitious program, "is what makes Katie, Katie. ... She has to be able to step up at the end and do great splits. That's great preparation for anytime she has to swim two events."
In the men's 100 freestyle, Phelps (48.41), from Rodgers Forge, was edged by Brazil's Cesar Cielo by .07 of a second. Phelps beat his own mark of 48.42.
"I guess I ran out of pool," Phelps said, grinning. "I needed a couple of more meters. I wanted to come in and get my best time and I barely did it, so I accomplished my goal."
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