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Ron Judd's Olympics Insider

Ron Judd, an Olympics junkie and Seattle Times columnist who has covered Olympic sports since 1997, will use this space to serve up news and opinion on the Summer and Winter Games -- also inviting you to chime in on Planet Earth's biggest get-together.

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July 1, 2008 5:07 PM

Swim Trials; Jendrick, Hoelzer earn Beijing spots

Posted by Ron Judd

Some spoilers for those of you with cable who can't get the live swim-trials feed:

Women's 100 Breast:
Megan Jendrick is back, baby. The Puyallup native, a double gold medalist in Sydney in 2000 as a 16-year-old, finished second behind Jessica Hardy to win a spot on the Beijing Olympic team. Hardy swam 1:06.87, Jendrick 1:07.50 -- a third of a second slower than her best qualifying time yesterday. Bremerton native Tara Kirk finished third -- by an excruciating one one-hundredth of a second. It was a reversal of the outcome from four years ago in Long Beach, where Kirk edged Jendrick by 11 hundredths. And it's the culmination of an amazing story -- the two actually swam together in the same pool as youngsters in Bremerton.

Hardy led most of the race, and Jendrick trailed Kirk by what looked to be almost a meter with 25 to go. That patented Jendrick finish kick rocketed her into second -- and into the Olympics. It's a compelling comeback story: It would have been easy to retire after the crushing defeat four years ago.

Rebecca Soni of USC was fourth at 1:07.80. Three-time Olympian Amanda Beard was sixth at 1:08.80. Beard is a stronger contender for the 200 breast, where Jendrick, with the immense pressure of making the team now removed, might also prove to be a terror. She's been swimming faster than ever in that event leading up to the trials. The 200 breast prelims and semifinal are Thursday. The final is Friday night.

Both Jendrick and Hardy will need to up their game to return from Beijing with a gold medal, however. There, they'll face Australian superstar Leisl Jones, who holds the world record at 1:05.09. Hardy holds the American record at 1:06.20.

Men's 100 Back:
Another race, another WR. Aaron Piersol, the WR holder and defending gold medalist, lowered his own mark to 52. 89, edging out Matt Grevers (53.19) and Ryan Lochte (53.57). In fourth was Randall Bal at 53.45 -- same position as the Trials in '04. Ouch. Grevers got to the wall a flash faster with those long arms -- he's 6-foot-8.

Women's 100 Back:
OK, so Natalie Coughlin's pretty fast, too. For the second time in two days, the five-time Olympic medalist broke her own WR in this event, swimming 58.97. Right behind her was our first swimming local to make the Beijing team, Margaret Hoelzer, touching at 59.21. Hoelzer, an Alabaman who trains at King Aquatics, edged out Hayley McGregory, who briefly broke Coughlin's old WR yesterday and touched at 59.42. It was McGregory's second straight trials finishing in that awful position -- third, close enough to taste the Olympics, but not close enough to get there. Big day and big career step for Hoelzer, who swam under 1 minute in this race for the first time yesterday.

Men's 200 Free:
OK, Michael Phelps is pretty fast. The human torso, qualifying in the number one position for his third event (and counting) for Beijing, jjust swam a 1:44.10 in the 200 free -- a little off his own world record. Phelps finished a full body length ahead of the field. That's a long ways. He's 6-foot-4, and probably still growing.

Quote of the Night:
"He's as close to a dolphin as a human can be." -- Rowdy Gaines, on Michael Phelps.

Comment: Wasn't Flipper as close to a dolphin as a human can be? Or was it the other way around?

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Chicago Tribune Olympic sports writer Philip Hersh's blog U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site. Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription). News service with audio, video and text coverage of Olympic sports, during and between Olympics. Free, but charges for live video feed subscriptions. Beijing Organizing Committee Web site. Vancouver Organizing Committee's 2010 Winter Games site. London 2012 Summer Games site. Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site. Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
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