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Coughlin has time for record

She breaks Hoff's U.S. mark in 200 medley, but she is unlikely to swim event in Beijing.

June 07, 2008|Lisa Dillman and Lucas Shaw | Special to The Times

By her count Natalie Coughlin had swum the 200-meter individual medley twice in five years before this weekend's Janet Evans Invitational at USC. Her coach, Teri McKeever, disagreed. She remembered her swimming it once.

Friday evening, swimming it for the second time in one day, Coughlin broke Katie Hoff's American record, finishing in 2 minutes 9.77 seconds. It is the fifth long course event in which she holds an American record.

"It's kind of cool because it's an event I haven't swam since I was a teenager," Coughlin said. "I feel like a teenager because I'm dropping all this time."

The reverberations of Coughlin's record swim made it to Omaha. Someone told Hoff that Coughlin broke her record while she was in the ready room preparing for the 100-meter butterfly at the Swimvitational, a test event for the U.S. Olympic swim trials. Hoff finished fourth, in 1:00.20, and didn't seem thrilled with either result.

"I don't know if she's swimming that at trials," Hoff said of Coughlin. "If she swims it, that will be a great race.

With U.S. Olympic trials approaching, Coughlin said she would swim the medley but thought it was unlikely to be in her Olympic program.

Coughlin broke the record swimming in the Speedo LZR Racer, a suit that has gotten a great deal of attention as swimmers wearing the suit have broken 37 world records (long course and short course) since February.

"I think it's a great suit," Coughlin said. "I don't think it's as magical as all the controversy has made it sound, but it's a good progression from the suits I've had before."

Coughlin does not want to swim in more than one event a day and swam in the medley because she did not have a Friday race. She will not swim in the 100 butterfly or the 100 freestyle, both of which she holds the American record in, because of other events.

Though Coughlin set an American record, Jessica Hardy, the American-record holder in the 100 breaststroke, did something Coughlin did not -- win two events in the same hour. Hardy started by holding off Tara Kirk's late charge to win the 100 breaststroke.

"I felt her there," Hardy said. "I kind of let that take me out of my race but it was good to win it."

Hardy followed her victory in the breaststroke with another win in the 50 freestyle.

Other winners Friday included two-time Olympian Jason Lezak in the 50 freestyle and Tamas Kerekjarto, who set a meet record in the 200 medley.

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lisa.dillman@latimes.com

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