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Smit swims to three victories

June 08, 2008|Lucas Shaw

With only 20 meters to go in the 200-meter freestyle, Natalie Coughlin, the former American-record holder, was leading a field with no other swimmer ranked higher than 48th and unranked Julia Smit in second.

What she didn't anticipate was that Smit would have a record-setting Saturday at USC's Janet Evans Invitational. Trailing by 0.6 of a second with 50 meters to go, Smit surged to edge Coughlin by .03 of a second, setting a meet record of 1 minute 57.34 seconds.

"I was just trying to focus on everything we've talked about, like kick the last 15 meters and don't breathe," Smit said.

Smit was far from done, because she had also signed up for the 400 individual medley and 200 backstroke. She won by nearly six seconds in the medley, setting another meet record. In the backstroke, she fell behind early, but then stole the lead and her third victory.

Tunisian swimmer Ous Mellouli also set a record. After winning a gold and silver medal at the 2007 World Championships, he was banned for 18 months after testing positive for amphetamines. In his first meet since the ban, he started the 400 freestyle at an American-record pace before settling for an African record of 3:44.79.

-- Lucas Shaw

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