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Katie Hoff, sprinter?

The news rippled around the arena this morning and left people shaking their heads and questioning whether they'd heard it just right.

Hold on, Katie Hoff won the 100 meter freestyle? And beat Natalie Coughlin, who won bronze in that event in Athens, in the process?

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Yup. You read that right.

Hoff, wearing her new Speedo LZR Racer swim suit, clipped Coughlin at the finish line with a time of 54.28 to win the 100 meter freestyle, which was something of a surprise. Hoff, the world record holder in the 400 IM, has exactly been an elite sprinter and doesn't even normally swim the 100 freestyle. But her freestyle stroke continues to get better and better, as evidenced by the fact that she finished fourth at the FINA World Championships in the 400 meter freestyle and in the preliminaries here she was just a second off Janet Evans' American record in that event last night.

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Coughlin said afterward she wasn't worried about her time or who she was swimming against, but Hoff's victory in the 100 meter freestyle will certainly raise some eyebrows elsewhere. Her coach at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club is still trying to figure out what exactly her program will be for the Olympic trials in July, and this will certainly give him -- and the rest of the swimming world -- something to think about.

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