Fayette County

medal hopes on hold

BEIJING — Elaine Breeden had hoped to gain a spot in the Olympic finals of the women's 100-meter butterfly.

Then again, it's the 200 fly that is her specialty.

So when she tied for sixth in her semifinal heat Sunday morning in Beijing, there were no tears before a Water Cube sellout crowd of 17,000. Now, she has another day to rest for the 200 butterfly.

“Not my best. I was a little disappointed with the time,” Breeden said of her 58.55-second finish. “But my butterfly's feeling good, so I'm just going to rest up and look forward to the 200, which is my best event.”

Preliminaries in the 200 are Tuesday.

Breeden's heat was won by reigning world champion Lisbeth Trickett of Australia in 57.05. Christine Magnuson, out of the University of Tennessee, placed second in an American-record 57.08, advancing to the finals. The former American record of 57.34 was set last year by Natalie Coughlin.

Breeden touched sixth, tied with Alena Popchanka of France.

Australia's Jessica Schipper, world record-holder in the 200 fly, won the second heat in 57.43.

Finals are set for Monday.

Breeden agreed that her semifinal exit might be a blessing in disguise when the 200 comes around.

“Yeah, we'll see how it turns out,” she said. “But I thought it was a really good race yesterday and a pretty good showing today. That would have been my best time before the (U.S.) trials, so I can't be too disappointed with that. I'm just going to sit back and cheer for Christy.”

About 12 hours before the semifinals, Saturday night in Beijing, Breeden advanced by placing third in her preliminary heat and sixth overall, timed in 58.06.

Magnuson won the heat in 57.70. Schipper had the fastest prelim time, 57.58. Poland's Otylia Jedrzejczak, the 2004 gold medalist, missed qualifying by one place.

Did Breeden learn anything from her two races?

“It's just another meet,” she said. “It doesn't matter what people call it, it doesn't matter how many people are watching. You just have to treat it like any other meet and swim as fast as you can and enjoy racing.”

Breeden's swim came moments after Michael Phelps got the first of what he hopes will be eight gold medals.

His time of 4:03.84 in the 400-meter individual medley destroyed both his day-old Olympic record of 4:07.82 and his world record of 4:05.25, set in June at the U.S. Olympic trials.

Three other events were decided:

■ A Netherlands team of Inge Dekker, Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Femke Heemskerk and Marleen Veldhaus churned out an Olympic-record 3:33.76 in the women's 4-by-100 freestyle relay. The U.S., with Coughlin, Lacey Nymeyer, Kara Lynn Joyce and 41-year-old Dara Torres, took the silver medal in 3:34.33. Australia, anchored by Trickett, earned the bronze (3:35.05).

■ Katie Hoff of Towson, Md., took bronze in the women's 400 individual medley (4:31.71). Australia's Stephanie Rice won, breaking Hoff's world record in 4:29.45.

■ Larsen Jensen of Bakersfield, Calif., beat his own American record in the men's 400-meter freestyle to win a bronze. His time of 3:42.78 beat his 3:43.53, set at the U.S. trials. Taehwan Park of South Korea won in an Asian-record 3:41.86.

Team USA advanced both its swimmers to the finals of the men's 100-meter breaststroke — world record-holder Brendan Hansen and Mark Gangloff. Hansen qualified fifth (59.94), Gangloff seventh (1:00.44).