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Originally published Monday, June 30, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Hoelzer, Jennings, Kirk, Jendrick advance at swim trials

King Aquatics swimmer Margaret Hoelzer didn't let Sunday night's disappointing time in the semifinals of the 100 butterfly affect her performance...

Special to The Seattle Times

OMAHA, Neb. — King Aquatics swimmer Margaret Hoelzer didn't let Sunday night's disappointing time in the semifinals of the 100 butterfly affect her performance this morning in the prelims of the 100 backstroke at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials.

The 2007 world champion swam the fastest time in her heat, 1:00.86, to finish third among the top 16 qualifiers for tonight's semifinals. Seventeen-year-old Leona Jennings, also of King Aquatics, beat her best time by more than a second in the same heat to finish in 1:01.36. She also qualified for tonight's semis with the seventh-fastest time.

"I felt nice and relaxed during the race; that's what I always try to do in prelims," said Hoelzer, who was seeded third (1:00.38) coming into the event. "My goal coming in was just to swim fast enough to make the semifinals and then step it up a notch tonight."

Hoelzer was fourth at the 25-meter turn, and despite being known more for her endurance (she's the world champion in the 200 backstroke), she kicked her race into another gear down the last 25 to edge North Baltimore's Elizabeth Pelton (1:01.34). Jennings was third in the heat.

Hoelzer credits her work the past two months with King coach Sean Hutchison as the difference-maker in her swims so far in this meet.

"[Moving to King] was the best decision I could have made for myself," said Hoelzer, who moved to the Seattle area this spring from where she was training at Auburn University. "Sean is a very intelligent man, and he makes training fun, which is what I needed at this stage in my swimming."

Swimming in her first Trials, Jennings was excited to swim her best time, regardless of the event outcome.

"It's so exciting to swim here and then to swim your best time by a second is great," Jennings said. "I feel I put myself in a good position for tonight's semifinals. This is just a lot of fun."

Hoelzer's and Jenning's times preceded back-to-back world record swims, first by Hayley McGregory, who lowered Natalie Coughlin's mark from 59.21 to 59.15. In the last heat, however, Coughlin moved back to the top of the list with a blistering 59.03.

Kirk, Jendrick advance to 100 breaststroke semifinals

Tara Kirk and Megan Jendrick posted two of the top four times in the 100 breaststroke to advance to tonight's semifinals.

Representing King Aquatics, Jendrick swam 1:07.06 in the final heat of the morning preliminaries alongside heat winner and top seed Jessica Hardy (1:06.85) heading into tonight's semis. Jendrick is seeded third. Kirk, from Bremerton, won her heat in 1:07.86 to finish with the fourth-fastest time of the morning. The top eight times advance to Tuesday night's finals.

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"It was fun. The water was really fast, so I would have liked to swim faster, but I mostly just wanted to make sure I advanced to the semifinals," Kirk said. "I usually follow Natalie [Coughlin] in my events, so it was inspiring to watch her and Hayley [McGregory] set world records earlier this morning. If she [Coughlin] swims well, then I usually feel like I'll swim well, too."

Jendrick came into prelims with a similar goal — to swim well enough to make tonight's semifinals. After her heat, she said she felt relaxed and wasn't going to get caught up in the excitement of fast times from earlier heats.

"I just wanted to swim my race, conserve as much energy as possible and make it to tonight's semis," said Jendrick, the 2000 Olympic gold medalist in this event as a 16-year-old. "It's always good to get the first preliminary race out of the way and focus on the rest of the meet."

Fellow King Aquatics teammate Ariana Kukors earned the final spot among the top 16 with a time of 1:09.75, bettering her qualifying time of 1:09.97. Sister Emily, who qualified 23rd in a time of 4:14.01 coming into Trials did not swim the 400 freestyle.

**

Morning preliminary results from Seattle area swimmers:

Women's 100 backstroke:

3. Margaret Hoelzer, King Aquatics, 1:00.86

7. Leona Jennings, King, 1:01.36

106. Erin Campbell, Washington Aquatics, 1:05.11

108. Annemarie Thayer, Salmon Bay, 1:05.24

111. Dannica Brennan, King, 1:05.48

114. Brianne Lindblad, King, 1:05.62

Men's 200 freestyle:

29. Ryan Verlatti, Tacoma, 1:49.86

Women's 100 breaststroke:

3. Megan Jendrick, King Aquatics, 1:07.06

4. Tara Kirk, Bremerton, 1:07.86

16. Ariana Kukors, King, 1:09.75

54. Genevieve Patterson, Washington Aquatics, 1:11.90

79. Lindsey Marchand, King, 1:12.90

Men's 100 backstroke:

49. Jon Banker, Washington Univ., 57.21

Women's 400 freestyle:

60. Andie Taylor, King Aquatics, 4:19.75

67. Kim Jasmer, King Aquatics, 4:20.75

Sunday preliminary results from Seattle area swimmers:

Women's 100 butterfly:

54. Erin Campbell, Washington Aquatics, 1:01.12

123. Katie Kinnear, Issaquah Swim Team, 1:02.99

126. Kirsten Byers, King Aquatics, 1:03.13

Women's 400 individual medley:

5. Ariana Kukors, King Aquatics, 4:40.36

38. Andie Taylor, King, 4:52.78

41. Lauren Hall, Salmon Bay, 4:53.49

59. Courtney Eronemo, Kent, 4:56.12

62. Mattie Kukors, King, 4:56.66

Men's 100 breaststroke:

24. Garren Riechel, Stingray, 1:02.94

41. Russell Mahan, Washington Aquatics, 1:03.85

42. Jonathan Hiett, King Aquatics, 1:03.90

70. Ted Harris, King, 1:05.90

72. Kevin Munsch, King, 1:06.17

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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