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Originally published August 12, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 12, 2008 at 4:26 PM

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Olympics

A red-white-and-blue day for U.S. swimmers

Margaret Hoelzer and Megan Jendrick train together with the same coach, Sean Hutchison, at the King Aquatic Club in the Seattle area. Now they both have...

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BEIJING — Margaret Hoelzer and Megan Jendrick train together with the same coach, Sean Hutchison, at the King Aquatic Club in the Seattle area.

Now they both have Olympic medals.

Jendrick, 24, has two golds, but from eight years ago. She wasn't able to add to her medal count in Beijing, finishing fifth in the 100 breaststroke here Tuesday morning — the same event she won in Sydney, along with a relay.

Hoelzer, 25, took the bronze medal in the 100 backstroke in Beijing, about an hour before Jendrick's race. Hoelzer, who is from Huntsville, Ala., and attended school at Auburn, moved to the Seattle-area in April to train with Hutchinson and his team with the King Aquatic Club.

Hoelzer was beaten to the silver by her roommate at Auburn, Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe. The gold was taken by Natalie Couglin, in an American-record 58.96 seconds.

"It was a close race," Hoelzer said. "Third, fourth and fifth [a 59.40 by Russia's Anastasia Zueva] were very close, so it's not something you just expect."

Hoelzer will get another opportunity, in the 200 backstroke, where she owns the American record, clocked at the trials. Qualifying starts Thursday in her next race. The final is Saturday.

Tuesday turned out to be a red, white and blue morning for the American swimmers.

Aaron Peirsol defended his Olympic title in the 100 backstroke with a world record of 52.54, and teammate Matt Grevers made it a one-two U.S. finish. Peirsol beat his own mark, 52.89, set at last month's national trials in Omaha, Neb., and Grevers added to the gold he won for swimming the preliminaries of the 400 free relay.

The bronze was shared by Russia's Arkady Vyatchanin and Australia's Hayden Stoeckel.

Coughlin became the first woman to repeat as champion of the 100 backstroke. She held off Coventry, who set a world record of 58.77 in the semifinals but couldn't repeat that performance.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet," Coughlin said. "I knew when I saw the '1' by my name, because at first I thought I saw the clock wrong. It's a great feeling."

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The U.S. dominance was broken only by Australia's Leisel Jones, who made up for a disappointing bronze four years ago by winning the 100 breaststroke in 1:05.17, just eight-hundredths off her own world record. Rebecca Soni, who got a berth in the event after fellow American Jessica Hardy tested positive for drugs last month, sure took advantage of her opportunity by winning the silver in 1:06.73.

In the semifinals of the women's 200 free, Katie Hoff advanced with the second-fastest time of 1:57.01. The 19-year-old American, who is like a little sister to Michael Phelps, is still trying to win her first gold medal after settling for bronze and silver in her first two events. She still has three more individual races, plus a relay, to make up for that void.

The Associated Press contributed.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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