- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Swimming capsule

SCHEDULE

August 9-17

Final event lineup

(Note: All finals are scheduled for morning Beijing time - around 10 p.m. East Coast time the previous night.)

Aug. 10: Men’s and women’s 400 individual medley, men’s 400 freestyle, women’s 4x100 relay

Aug. 11: Women’s 100 butterfly, men’s 100 breaststroke, women’s 400 free, men’s 4x100 free relay

Aug. 12: Men’s 200 free and 100 back, women’s 100 back and 100 breast

Aug. 13: Men’s 200 fly and 4x200 free relay, women’s 200 free and 200 IM

Aug. 14: Men’s 100 free and 200 breast, women’s 200 fly and 4x200 relay

Aug. 15: Men’s 200 back and 200 IM, women’s 100 free and 200 breast

Aug. 16: Men’s 50 free and 100 fly, women’s 800 free and 200 back

Aug. 17: Men’s 1,500 free and 4x100 medley relay, women’s 50 free and 4x100 medley relay

OVERVIEW

Where: National Aquatics Center

U.S. outlook: Start with Michael Phelps and Katie Hoff. In Athens, the American team won 28 medals (12 gold). If everything goes right in Beijing, Phelps and Hoff will account for 14 medals just by themselves. But there’s a lot more to this team - there are world champions and medal contenders all over the program. Great Falls’ Kate Ziegler makes her Olympic debut and could win gold in the 800 free. Natalie Coughlin is back at another games and is the 100 backstroke favorite. The top international swimmers are Australia’s Libby Trickett and Leisel Jones, France’s Laure Manaudou and Zimbabwe’s Kirsty Coventry. On the men’s side, Aaron Piersol is the favorite in both backstroke races, as is Brendan Hanson in the 100 breast. Australia’s Grant Hackett serves as a road block in the 200, 400 and 1,500 freestyle races. Ryan Lochte could medal in three races.

ATHLETES TO WATCH

KATIE HOFF

Country: United States (Towson, Md.)

Age: 19

Events: 200, 400 and 800 freestyles, 200 and 400 individual medleys, 4x200 free relay

About Hoff: Phelps’ former teammate at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, Hoff could be the Phelps of the women’s competition. She won five individual events at last month’s trials and is the reigning world champion in both individual medleys. She was the youngest member of the U.S team in Athens but didn’t medal in her two events. That should change in a big way this time around. She’s favored to win at least two individual golds.

GRANT HACKETT

Country: Australia (Melbourne)

Age: 28

Events: 200, 400 and 1,500 free, 4x200 free relay

About Hackett: With Ian Thorpe retired for three years, Hackett - nicknamed “The Machine” - will lead the Aussies in Beijing. He’s gunning for a third consecutive win in the 1,500 freestyle (an event in which he holds the world record). If he wins that race, he would become the first male swimmer to win three straight golds in the same event. He’s also the favorite in the 400 free. After his country’s trials, Hackett said he’s in better shape than before Sydney and Athens.

DARA TORRES

Country: United States (Parkland, Fla.)

Age: 41

Events: 50 free, 4x100 free relay

About Torres: The oldest swimmer to make a U.S. team and the first to make five teams, Torres was the feel-good story of the trials, winning the 50 and 100 free and setting a U.S. record in the 50 free. She later dropped the 100 from her schedule. She’s already the oldest swimming gold medalist (winning in Sydney at age 33). Torres started her latest comeback in August 2006, won a national title a year later and set her sights on Beijing 24 years after making her Olympic debut in Los Angeles.

KIRSTY COVENTRY

Country: Zimbabwe (lives in Austin, Texas)

Age: 24

Events: 100 and 200 back, 200 and 400 individual medley

About Coventry: The Auburn University alumnus serves as Katie Hoff’s main competition in the individual medley races, and she also will contend for medals in both backstroke events. Her three medals in Athens were the first in swimming for her country. When she returned home, a sign at the airport read, “Welcome Home Our Princess of Sport.” Her main competition in the 200 back is former college teammate Margaret Hoelzer.

SWIMMING TO HISTORY

Competing in his third Olympics, Michael Phelps has a chance for American immortality in Beijing. A look at the top six men’s medalists in U.S. Summer Olympics history:

Name Sport (app.*)GSBT

Mark Spitz Swimming (2) 9 1 1 11

Matt Biondi Swimming (3)8 1 2 11

Carl Osburn Shooting (3) 5 4 2 11

Carl Lewis Track and field (4) 9 1 0 10

Ray Ewry Track and field (4) 8 0 08

Michael Phelps Swimming (2) 6028

*appearances

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