Hoff reflects on Olympics

To Kevin, et al.

Subject: Katie speaks

As mentioned in a previous entry, it was a bit disconcerting to see Katie Hoff breeze through the interview area after failing to qualify for the 800 free finals. Not for our sake necessarily. But for the sake of family and friends back in Maryland who were probably worried and concerned. Anyhow, that was last night's news. Today Hoff wasted no time addressing that race and her entire Olympic experience here in Beijing. Her comments, I thought, were especially reflective and insightful, and she seemed to be in good spirits this morning.

On the emotions from her bronze in the relay and then a tough 800 free in the same day:

"A little roller coaster-y. Obviously I was really happy to kind of bring home the relay. Obviously we would have wanted to win gold. We all put our hearts into it. I was happy to go a best time in the relay split. Last night I just maybe took it out a little too fast. I was trying to stay with the girl and kind of ran out of gas at the end completely. There was nothing more I could do. I feel like the schedule was definitely a lot tougher than I thought it would be, doing it twice. I handled it at trials, but it was the Olympic Games, very challenging. I’m just proud of winning three medals. Would have hoped for it to go a little bit better, but you really can’t stick your nose up at three Olympic medals."

On what she’d do differently or remove:

"I think in the middle there, I was fine through 400-400, and it was just really tough going from right after those four 400s into the 200s. It was kind of like, ugh. I felt so good for the relay because I actually had some time off and stuff. I think the double really took it out of me."

On a greater appreciation for Michael Phelps:

"Definitely. I keep saying that. The mental energy and emotional energy and physical energy that it takes to go out there and get up every time, even for a prelim, you have to put in some kind of effort, even Michael, Just it’s incredible, he’s swimming even more than I swam. He’s doing [it] in world record time, gold medals. It definitely gives me a lot more respect, even more than I already had for him."

On the lingering effects from her heartbreaking loss in 400 free:

"I think it would have been a little bit easier mentally on me, just losing by seven-hundredths is an awesome thing on your mind. But I don't think as far as anything would go, I'd still put in the same effort.

"I'm going to be in the sport for awhile and I want it to be fun. This schedule, you look at it and you don't go into it as excited as I feel like I would if I was swimming in just two or three, [and a relay]. So I think I will evaluate and maybe focus in on three or four, two or three, instead of five events."

On whether coach Paul Yetter pushed her into too many races:

"Not really. It was my decision to do that. It just kind of fell into place by itself. I decided, OK these are the events I'll swim at trials. I ended up doing really well at trials and winning them all. I felt like, why would I just drop this event? I think it was just a learning experience. I think you just take that learning out of this and use that in the next four years."

On Natalie Coughlin, who swims fewer races than she probably could:

"I think she kind of learned that around the same time I did. I think she started dropping events when she was 18, 19. We were talking the other day, she had the American record in the 200 back for a long time before it was broken. People were always criticizing, why didn't she swim it? It's just because she flat-out hated the event. There are events that I can't stand also, but I do them anyway.

"For the longevity in the sport, you have to make sure that you're picking events that you're really excited to do and not just because they have chosen you. I feel like because I have a lot of events, that gives me a lot of options. I don't have to be stuck with one event. I can choose from certain events and not race all of them."

On which race she hates most:

"The 400 IM."

On America's gold-or-nothing mentality:

"I don't think it's really fair. I think Michael is doing what he's doing and it's incredible, but it kind of makes the rest of us look like, if you don't win a gold medal, it's not... [LAUGHS]... you know. I even got a best time in the 200 free and I didn't medal. It's tough, but obviously Michael gets our sport out there and that's great. I just have to always put in perspective as far as me personally and think, OK, silver medal, two bronze. I'm moving up in the world. It's better than last time and I'm not close to being done."

On the next few weeks:

"Last time I only took about a week or so. This time I'm definitely gonna take a break. It's been four years, just kind of working really hard. Take a month of just relaxing, a tropical island or something."

On what was the most fun part of the Games:

"I think it was really cool the relay, even though we didn't win. But I love that whole team thing. You hold hands, lift them up to the crowd. I was really looking forward to that. I think that's what helped me swim so fast on the end of it."

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