U.S. swimmer Sandeno nearly gets gold

Updated: August 14, 2004, 4:10 PM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- Yana Klochkova of Ukraine won her second straight 400-meter individual medley at the Olympics, holding off American Kaitlin Sandeno by just the length of a hand Saturday night.

The two swimmers made the final turn in virtually a dead heat, but Klochkova got to the wall first to become the first two-time winner of the women's 400 IM in Olympic history.

Klochkova, the world-record holder, took gold in 4 minutes, 34.83 seconds -- just 12-hundredths of a second ahead of Sandeno.

Sandeno, of Lake Forest, Calif., claimed an American record with her time of 4:34.95 and improved two places from her performance in Sydney, where she finished fourth as an Olympic rookie.

"I feel excited," Sandeno said. "It's my best time by 5½ seconds. I wasn't even upset that I got outpunched."

Georgina Bardach of Argentina claimed the bronze in 4:37.51.

Sandeno still has plenty of work ahead. She also qualified in two other individual events and will swim one of the relays for the U.S. team.

Vasiliki Angelopoulou was the female first Greek swimmer to qualify for an Olympic final. She finished last in the eight-woman field (4:50.85.).

There were two surprises in the preliminaries.

Katie Hoff, the 15-year-old who swims at the same North Baltimore club as Michael Phelps, failed to make the final and vomited after her morning heat, primarily because of nerves. She finished 17th after swimming the second-fastest time by an American when she won the event at the U.S. trials.

Beatrice Caslaru of Romania, the bronze medalist at the Sydney Games, was 14th.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press