Thursday, July 3, 2008

Hoff, Coughlin leave 200 individual medley worries in their wake

Considering the Olympic heartbreak the 200 IM had caused them in the past, both Katie Hoff and Natalie Coughlin approached Wednesday night's U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials finals with an surprising degree of calm.

"The 200 IM has been a tough race for me; it's been my race since I was 10," said Hoff, who won the event just about 45 minutes after taking first place in the 200 free. "I get really nervous for it. But tonight I was trying to relax and have fun with it."

Hoff rallied on the breaststroke and freestyle to win in 2:09.71, improving on Coughlin's American record of 2:09.77 set less than a month ago.Coughlin, the runner-up, was also relatively carefree about a race that she has practically refused to swim for the last seven years.

"It was really fun to go into a race without expectations today," she said. "I wasn't even nervous going into that race. And I don't get to feel like that very often."

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