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US Swimming championships

Olympians dominate first night

By Beth Harris
Associated Press / July 8, 2009
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INDIANAPOLIS - Ryan Lochte held off hard-charging Tyler Clary to win the 400-meter individual medley at the USA Swimming National Championships last night, leading a parade of Olympians who qualified for the world meet later this month.

Michael Phelps, who won eight gold medals at the Beijing Games, did not swim on opening night of the five-day meet. He is scheduled to compete in two events today.

Lochte and Clary made it a two-man race to the wall, with Lochte touching first in 4 minutes 6.40 seconds. Clary finished in 4:06.96.

Katie Hoff supplied the only surprise of the evening. 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,’’ said her new coach, Bob Bowman. “Katie’s been struggling physically. She’s still not right, but she’s going to step up and try to do a better 200 [freestyle].’’

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.

Except for Hoff, Olympians dominated with the world championships looming later this month.

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, silver medalist in Beijing, won the 100 butterfly, touching first in 57.15 seconds.

“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, fourth in Beijing, held off 20-year-old training partner Daniel Madwed to win the 400 freestyle in 3:45.17. Vanderkaay was under American-record pace through the first 350 meters.

Madwed 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.

Dana Vollmer finished second to Magnuson in 57.32, putting herself in line for a trip to Rome.

Smit set an American record in the 200 individual medley, winning in 2:09.34 to erase the mark of 2:09.71 set by Hoff at last year’s US Olympic trials.

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.

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.

Schmitt qualified for her first worlds by winning the 400 free in 4:06.77.