U.S. Olympic Swimmer; 2005 and 2007 World Champion in the 200m, 400m and 4x200m freestyle relay
Katie Hoff qualified for Beijing by winning five individual events at Olympic Trials: 200m freestyle, 400m free, 800m free, 200m IM and 400m IM. Hoff broke the world record in the 400m IM on opening night at Trials, securing her spot on the team. She followed that up by breaking the American record in the 200m free and 200m IM on the same night in a grueling double.
Though Hoff matched Michael Phelps' five wins at Trials, she likely will compete in six or seven events in Beijing, whereas Phelps will swim eight with three relay berths. Hoff earned a relay berth on the 4x200m free relay by winning the 200m free and could swim the heats of the 4x100m free relay. But Phelps adds the 4x100m medley relay with his win in the 100m fly. Hoff is an equally versatile swimmer, but she does not swim the 100m distances required to earn a spot on the medley relay.
Off to the races
Hoff recalls watching the Sydney Olympics as an 11-year-old and being amazed that American swimmer Kaitlin Sandeno was competing at age 17. Little did Hoff know that four years later, she would be competing in Athens herself at age 15 -- the youngest American athlete at those Games. Hoff made the final in the 200m IM, finishing seventh, and also competed in the 400m IM.
Though she was disappointed with her first Olympic experience, Hoff says she learned important lessons for the future. The expectations and pressure were overwhelming at the time, and Hoff says she lost touch with what had been working for her, instead paying attention to what other swimmers were doing. This time around, even though there might be more pressure, Hoff says she is used to the attention and is focused on what she needs to do.
Hoff's swimming career exploded after the 2004 Games. She won gold in the 200m and 400m IM as well as the 4x200m freestyle relay at the 2005 Worlds. Two years later, Hoff won the 200m IM, set a world record in winning the 400m IM and swam on the winning 4x200m freestyle relay at the 2007 Worlds.
Maryland is already the fourth different state in which Hoff has lived. She was born in California, moved to Phoenix, Ariz., and most recently spent seven years living in Virginia. In the summer of 2003, she moved to Maryland and began to train with Paul Yetter at North Baltimore Aquatic Club's satellite pool in Edgewood. After the Athens Games, Yetter took over NBAC's main pool in Baltimore, and Hoff moved to Towson to be close by.
Hoff's mother, Jeanne, played basketball at Stanford and is the fourth-leading scorer in school history. She matched up against Cheryl Miller in college and played in the first NCAA women's tournament. Hoff said she tried basketball as a child but quickly found she had no hand-eye coordination -- and she is glad she found swimming as an alternative.
Although she has forfeited her collegiate eligibility by signing endorsement deals with Speedo, Visa and Playtex, Hoff has decided to enroll at Loyola University in Baltimore. Hoff will begin taking classes part time in the fall and will serve as an assistant coach for the Loyola swim team. Hoff decided to stay in Baltimore in order to continue training with Yetter. After Beijing, Hoff and Yetter will be joined at NBAC by Michael Phelps and Bob Bowman, who returned to Baltimore after four years in Michigan.
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