Coaches defend Hoff's heavy schedule

BEIJING Mon Aug 11, 2008 9:58am EDT

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BEIJING (Reuters) - U.S. swim coach Jack Bauerle has played down concerns Katie Hoff may have taken on too much after a mixed start to the Beijing Olympics.

Hoff entered five individual events plus one relay in Beijing in an ambitious bid to equal Kristin Otto's record haul of six golds for a woman, which the East German achieved at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

The 19-year-old Hoff's chances of winning six golds disappeared in her first event on Sunday when she finished third and lost her world record to Australia's Stephanie Rice in the 400 meters individual medley.

She also collected a silver in Monday's 400 freestyle final, leading until the final few strokes when she was overhauled by Britain's Rebecca Adlington.

Hoff was back in the pool on Monday night, qualifying for the semi-finals of the 200 freestyle and 200 individual medley and still has the 800 freestyle and 4x200 freestyle relay to come.

Hoff, who used to train with Michael Phelps, is no sure thing to win gold in any of her remaining events but Bauerle said the size of her program was not a problem.

"I don't think so at all, I really don't," he said.

"She's a terrifically conditioned athlete. On the outside it looks like she's disappointed but she has her head up high now and she's a tough, tough kid.

"The format isn't easy, every time she's been beaten it's been by a great swim."

Hoff famously suffered an attack of nerves and vomited on the pool deck at her first Olympic appearance at Athens four years ago and Bauerle said he had spoken to her to ensure she was coping this time.

"We had a meeting, we talked about it, she was excited," he said.

"She medaled, she had a close call and you can't bring it back. She was great tonight, 200 free, 200 IM back-to-back, no one is at that level."

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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