Image: Katie Hoff
TIMOTHY CLARY  /  AFP/Getty Images
US swimmer Katie Hoff (above) was unable to overcome the speed of Australia's Stephanie Rice, taking home a bronze medal in the 400 IM.
updated 8/9/2008 11:58:54 PM ET 2008-08-10T03:58:54

Stephanie Rice of Australia went out extremely fast and held on at the end to win the women’s 400 IM in 4:29.45 — nearly 2 seconds faster than the world record of 4:31.12 set by Katie Hoff at the U.S. Olympic trials.

“I sort of turned around and thought I saw 4:31 and I was thinking, ’That hurt a lot for a 4:31,”’ Rice said. “But when I walked over and saw the 4:29, I thought, ’That’s amazing.”’

Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe also went under the old mark, but only got the silver for the second-fastest swim in history, 4:29.89. Hoff couldn’t match her performance at the trials, settling for bronze in 4:31.71.

“It was a tough race, but I can’t really be mad,” Hoff said. “I was only like a half-second off my best time, so I’m happy to get my first medal of the Olympics.”

She was a frightened 15-year-old when she competed at her first Olympics in Athens, actually throwing up after her first event. She failed to win a medal in either of her two races.

This time, nerves weren’t a problem. She simply couldn’t keep up with Rice.

“I was trying,” Hoff said. “I didn’t have it at the end.”

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