CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Katie Hoff opened the Charlotte Ultraswim with a win in the 800-meter freestyle. Not that she was happy with the time.
The 19-year-old Hoff, a major disappointment at the Beijing Olympics, touched first at the Mecklenburg Aquatic Center in 8 minutes, 39.35 seconds -- far off her personal best of 8:19.70.
"I just felt a little sluggish in the beginning," Hoff said. "I've been working on my stroke a lot, and I think I forgot to kick in the first 400."
Hoff was touted as one of the biggest stars heading into the Olympics after qualifying for six events. But the program proved too grueling for the teenager, who settled for one silver and two bronzes and faded badly in her final event, finishing 11th in the 800 free.
She switched coaches, dumping longtime mentor Paul Yetter in favor of Bob Bowman, Michael Phelps' coach. They have worked on changing her stroke and getting over the disappointment of China.
"I'm trying to rotate a little bit more," Hoff said. "Sometimes when I breathe on my right, I tend to hesitate. There's a little bit of a stutter in my kick. I'm trying to rotate a lot more. That's been helping. I did that part right, at least."
Another Olympian, Peter Vanderkaay, won the grueling 1,500 free in 15:09.77. He finished 11th in the event at Beijing.
Josef Kinderwater took second in 15:31.84, while 18-year-old Brennan Morris -- who trains with Phelps at North Baltimore Aquatic Club -- was third in 15:38.88.
Hoff was followed by Emily Brunemann, the runner-up at 8:41.23, and 16-year-old Lindsay Seeman (8:44.05).
Phelps arrived in Charlotte on an early morning flight, but he's not scheduled to swim until Friday morning in the preliminaries of the 200 free and 100 butterfly. He's entered five events for the four-day meet, also planning to compete in the 50 free, 100 free and 100 backstroke.
This will be Phelps' first meet since winning eight gold medals in Beijing.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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