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Phelps, Hoff Lead the U.S.

Times Staff Writer

Just call Michael Phelps and Katie Hoff a set of IM twins.

The pair swept the 200 and 400 individual medleys at the Duel in the Pool at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatic Center in Irvine on Tuesday and helped the Americans to a 190-102 overall victory over the Australia Telstra Dolphins.

"[The victories] were what I wanted to do,” said Phelps, who also won the 200 butterfly and swam the freestyle leg of the men’s winning 400-medley relay team. “In a duel meet, you want to swim fast but the most important thing is to win.”

With the countries’ flags dangling high over the pool, Phelps, who has won 12 consecutive IMs, touched in at 4:12.71 in the 400 IM, 1:56.93 in the 200 IM.

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Hoff, a 16-year-old who was the youngest member of USA’s swim team at Athens last year, won the 400 IM by 4.5 seconds, besting the world championships record she set in Montreal last week. In the 400 IM, she edged teammate Whitney Myers, finishing at 2:11.55.

“I didn’t really think about winning both IMs,” Hoff said, “I just wanted to do well for USA.”

With both teams coming straight from the world championships, the duel was more apparent on the women’s side. It came down to the 400-medley relay, the final women’s race. Jessicah Schipper gave Australia the lead in the butterfly portion of the race and Jodie Henry held on in the freestyle leg to give Australia a 76-70 edge in the women’s competition.

But the difference makers were the American men, who dominated their competition. Before the meet begin, American captain Jason Lezak presented Australian captain Grant Hackett with a “real” football.

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After the friendly exchange, the American men got down to business, winning 13 of their 14 events.

Brendan Hansen, who has won six of his last seven breaststroke races, continued his reign in the event, winning the 100 and 200.

Aaron Peirsol swept the 100 and 200 backstrokes, coming in at 54.04 and 1:57.31. He owns world records in both events and hasn’t lost in the 200 backstroke since the 2000 Olympics, where he won silver.

Hackett, who won gold medals in the 1,500 freestyle the last two Olympics, was the only Australian men’s winner, taking the 400 freestyle at 3:45.31.

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“I was really, really tired, to be honest,” said Hackett. “I felt like I was crunching to get into second gear without the clutch.”

No records were set at the event. Australia’s Leisel Jones came the closest, finishing a hundredth of a second behind Jessica Hardy’s world-record time of 1:06.20 in the 100 breaststroke.

“Fatigue was a big factor, but you get through it,” said Natalie Coughlin, who won the 100 backstroke at 1:00.67. “We look at it as just an extension of the world championships.”

In the closest race, Australia’s Libby Lenton, who also won the 100 freestyle, won the 200 freestyle at 1:59.49. She beat Kaitlin Sandeno by nearly three-tenths of a second, Hoff by four-tenths.

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