Hall bumped from U.S. relay team for final

Updated: August 15, 2004, 7:09 AM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- Michael Phelps took care of qualifying for the Olympic 200-meter freestyle semifinals Sunday, and then found out he had been added to the American team for the evening's 400 freestyle relay final.

Phelps' rivals Ian Thorpe and Pieter van den Hoogenband and teammate Klete Keller were faster than the teenager in the 200 free preliminaries.

Also Sunday, Americans Tara Kirk and Amanda Beard earned spots in the 100 breaststroke semifinals, setting up a showdown with Australians Brooke Hanson and Leisel Jones.

The 400 freestyle relay final won't be just a two-nation race.

Anchored by Ryk Neethling, the South African team led the preliminaries in 3 minutes, 13.84 seconds -- just 0.17 seconds off Australia's world record set at the Sydney Games.

The American team of Gabe Woodward, Nate Dusing, Neil Walker and Gary Hall Jr. was second in 3:15.83 and Italy third in 3:16.18.

The Aussies tied France for a surprising sixth-place time of 3:17.64. But they'll likely insert Ian Thorpe and Michael Klim for the evening swim.

"Don't write us off yet,'' said Todd Pearson, who anchored Australia's morning team.

The addition of Phelps bumped off Hall, an eight-time Olympic medalist who has griped that U.S. coaches were giving Phelps special treatment in his bid to break Mark Spitz's record of seven golds in one Olympics.

"I want to swim again,'' Hall said before the team was announced.

A USA Swimming spokeswoman confirmed the evening team would be Ian Crocker, Jason Lezak, Phelps and Walker, but the lineup order wasn't revealed.

Phelps won his first gold of the Athens Games on Saturday, with a world-record performance in the 400 individual medley.

The 19-year-old from Baltimore was fourth after 50 meters of the 200 free, moved up to third at the 100 mark, was second at 150 and then cruised to the wall in 1:48.43 -- the fifth-fastest preliminary time.

"I was pretty tired after last night,'' he said. "I didn't get to bed until after midnight. I wanted to come in and have a strong swim this morning to be in a good position tonight.''

The 200 free semifinals were set Sunday night. The final Monday night will pit some of swimming's biggest stars against each other, including the only individual Olympic matchup between Phelps and Thorpe.

As van den Hoogenband made his way past reporters, someone asked him, "Is this the greatest race?''

"Ever,'' he replied, smiling.

Thorpe, who won gold in the 400 freestyle Saturday night, led the way in 1:47.22. The Aussie world record holder swam in the same heat with van den Hoogenband, who won the race in Sydney in 2000.

Van den Hoogenband was second-quickest in 1:47.32. Thorpe finished second to the Dutchman in Sydney.

Emiliano Brembilla of Italy was third in 1:47.95.

Keller, of Phoenix, was fourth in 1:47.97, the morning after he earned a bronze in the 400 freestyle behind Thorpe and Grant Hackett.

Hackett advanced to the 16-man evening semifinal, finishing seventh in 1:48.90.

Americans Aaron Peirsol and Lenny Krayzelburg resumed their rivalry in the 100 backstroke preliminaries.

Japan's Tomomi Morita had the top time of 54.41. Peirsol was the second-fastest qualifier in 54.65 seconds. Krayzelburg, the defending Olympic champion, tied for fourth with Austria's Markus Rogan in 54.87.

Peirsol was second to Krayzelburg in the 200 back four years ago, but Krayzelburg is limiting himself to the shorter race after undergoing two shoulder surgeries. They swam in the same heat Sunday.

American Natalie Coughlin advanced to the semifinals of the 100-meter backstroke, although the first and only woman to swim under 1 minute wasn't the fastest qualifier.

Coughlin won her preliminary heat in 1:01.45, which put her third-quickest heading into the evening semifinals.

Laure Manaudou of France was fastest in 1:01.27. Reiko Nakamura of Japan was second in 1:01.39.

Manaudou came back a short time later to lead the 400 freestyle preliminaries in 4:06.76. Poland's Otylia Jedrzejczak was second in 4:07.11 and Camelia Potec of Romania was third in 4:07.39.

Kaitlin Sandeno of Lake Forest, Calif., qualified sixth for the evening final in 4:08.22. She won a silver medal in the 400 IM Saturday night -- one of her three individual events.

In the women's 100 breaststroke, Hanson had the fastest preliminary time of 1:07.35, followed by Jones, the world record holder, in 1:07.69.

Kirk, of Bremerton, Wash., was third-best in 1:07.92. Germany's Sarah Poewe was fourth in 1:07.97, followed by Beard in 1:08.04. Beard, of Irvine, Calif., is a two-time medalist in the event, winning silver as a 14-year-old at the 1996 Atlanta Games and bronze in Sydney.

"It was fun, it was hard, it was great,'' Beard said. "It's always good to get that first swim out of the way. I'm real excited for tonight's races.''

There were plenty of empty seats for the preliminaries. Despite a searing sun, it was slightly cooler Sunday at 81 degrees when the morning competition began.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press