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Record keepers stay busy at Missouri Grand Prix

Sunday, February 17, 2008 | 11:22 p.m. CST; updated 11:13 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
The women’s 100-meter backstroke preliminary event starts at the MU Aquatics Center on Sunday. The finals for this event, along with seven other events, will take place this morning. Several world record holders, including Michael Phelps and Ian Crocker, will compete today.

COLUMBIA — If the last day of the Missouri Grand Prix goes anything like the first two, the record books might have to be completely rewritten.

Katie Hoff, whose dominance has been the story of the meet, will compete in the 800-meter freestyle and the 200-meter IM Monday as she tries to add another record to her already lengthy list.

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So far this weekend, Hoff has broken the longest standing American record (in the 400-meter freestyle Saturday), another American record in the 200-meter freestyle Sunday and the U.S. Open record, which denotes the fastest swim in American water, in the 400-meter individual medley Sunday.

“I think today (Sunday) definitely saw me getting a little more nervous,” Hoff said. “I kind of set the bar high for myself. I just told myself, relax, relax, you’re having a great meet. Relax and you’ll swim fast. That’s how I tried to be going into today, for my 400 IM especially.”

Hoff will look to better her own record in the 200 IM Monday morning in a field that contains top swimmers Kirsty Coventry, Kim Vandenberg and Caitlin Leverenz.

Other top races for the morning slate, the last session of the meet, include the women’s 100-meter butterfly, with all eight finalists seeded within two seconds, and the men’s 100-meter breaststroke, which will feature world-record-holder Brendan Hansen, Vlad Polyakov of Kazakhstan, Olympian Mark Gangloff and Michael Phelps, competing in what may be his weakest stroke.

Natalie Coughlin set up what should have been a compelling match up in the 100-meter backstroke Monday morning with an unexpected world record swim in the preliminaries for the event Sunday evening. Coventry, who posted the second best preliminaries time in the event, set a world record in the 200-meter backstroke Saturday.

“If you saw my face, I was slightly shocked,” Coughlin said. “It was funny. I was just laughing about it because I’m not coming tomorrow morning, so I was thinking about how I’m not going to warm down after the race and how we’re going out for barbecue tonight. That was seriously what was going through my mind the last 50 ... And then I hit the wall, and it was a best time. A strange race, and I still don’t know what to say about it.”

Coughlin will miss the morning final because of a travel conflict. She said she had just been hoping for a solid swim in her first race in the event since the fall.

Coughlin’s race, though, was just one in many quick swims on the fastest day of the Grand Prix so far. Sunday’s finals session saw meet records fall in nine of 10 events and pool records fall in eight of 10. The only individual event that did not see the establishment of a pool and meet record was the men’s 400 IM, won by Phelps.

“I swam well here last year, and I’m definitely excited to be back,” Phelps said after the morning finals session. “I was happy with the 200 free this morning, not very happy with the IM ... I could go on and on and on, but the bottom line is I’m not happy about the 400 IM and where it is right now, and I know what I have to do to change it, and that’s all that matters.”

Phelps will also battle world record holders Ian Crocker in the 100-meter butterfly and Aaron Peirsol in the 100-meter backstroke in what should be a busy morning for the face of U.S. swimming.


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