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Hoff misses out on Rome worlds berth

BEIJING Olympics silver medallist Katie Hoff failed to qualify for the world championships in the 400 meters freestyle when she finished sixth in the final at the US Nationals in Indianapolis on Tuesday.

Hoff, who ambitiously entered six events last year at Beijing and won one silver and two bronzes, finished in four minutes, 12.34 seconds, almost six seconds behind winner Allison Schmitt and more than 10 seconds outside her personal best.

"We have to regroup and decide what we're going to do," shrugged her coach Bob Bowman, who also coaches Michael Phelps. "She'll have to decide if she wants to fight her way back."

Hoff suffered a second blow on Tuesday when she lost her American national record to Julia Smit in the 200 individual medley.

Hoff, who won the 200 IM at the last world championships in Australia in 2007, decided to skip the event which Smit won in 2:09.34.

Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Ryan Lochte won the men's 400 individual medley, which did not feature Olympic champion and world record holder Phelps, who has changed his programme and is trying shorter events.

The first day of the competition did not feature any world records but produced plenty of quick times, highlighted by Mark Gangloff's impressive victory in the men's 100 breaststroke.

Ranked outside the top 20 in the event, Gangloff stormed home in 59.01 seconds, ending four years of frustration and smashing through the one minute barrier for the first time.

Only Kosuke Kitajima has gone faster and the Japanese swimmer's record of 58.91 had looked under threat as Gangloff was chased to the wall by Eric Shanteau. "I've been knocking on that barrier for so long, it feels so good to burst right through it," Gangloff said. "I almost skipped 59. It was years of hard work but I knew it was coming."

In the heats, Shanteau became just the second American to dip under the one minute mark and then bettered that in the final clocking 59.45.

Christine Magnuson was the first to book her place for Rome with a victory in the women's 100m butterfly, while Peter Vanderkaay won the men's 400m freestyle.

Silver medallist at the Beijing Olympics, Magnuson went out in a near world record pace and was pushed to the wall by Dana Vollmer touching in 57.15 seconds, but well off Inge de Bruijn's world mark of 56.61.

"I think I can do better at worlds but I'm on the team so I'm happy," said Magnuson. "It (world record) is definitely one of my goals."


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