Katie Hoff

Katie Hoff
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Katie Hoff retires from swimming

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Katie Hoff, a three-time 2008 Olympic medalist, announced her retirement from swimming due to blood clots in her lungs on Monday.

“I have given this a lot of thought and after 1.5 [years] of struggling with the effects of blood clots in my lungs, I have decided to officially retire from the sport of competitive swimming,” Hoff said, according to her social media. “While this has been an extremely frustrating decision to have to make, I have consulted with my doctor and concluded that retiring is the best choice for my long-term physical and mental health and happiness. Unfortunately, the length of time that the blood clots were undetected has resulted in a buildup of scar tissue that have decreased my lung capacity, which is significant enough to make swimming at the highest level an unrealistic option for me.”

Hoff, 26, won three medals each at the 2005 and 2007 Worlds and 2008 Olympics. She swept the individual medleys at the 2005 and 2007 Worlds.

She took a one-year sabbatical after failing to make the 2012 Olympic team (she was ill at trials), returned and posted promising times leading into the August 2014 U.S. Championships before starting to suffer from blood clots during that meet.

She then pulled out of the December 2014 World Short Course Championships and last competed in April, according to USA Swimming’s results database.

Hoff’s career has been marked by tremendous achievements, including making her first Olympic team at age 15 in 2004 and breaking her first world record at 18.

She is the youngest U.S. Olympian (Summer or Winter) since 1996, and she holds the oldest American record in an Olympic men’s or women’s swimming event (400m individual medley, 2008 Olympic trials).

It’s also included plenty of stressful times, from vomiting poolside at the 2004 Olympics to having to swim at the 2008 Olympics under the media label “female Phelps” after she won five individual events at the Olympic trials. She took home zero golds among her three medals in Beijing.

People will often tell Hoff, “You swam at the Olympics and won medals. That must be amazing.”

“Not that amazing,” Hoff said last year. “Every time I’ve been at a big meet like that [Olympics, World Championships, even U.S. Championships], I’ve almost dread about the events. I’ve been stressed out and worried.

“It’s something that I always struggle with, staying relaxed.”

Katie Ledecky broke one of Hoff’s records, the American record in the short-course 1,000-yard freestyle, on Sunday.

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Katie Hoff out of Short Course Worlds after blood clots

Katie Hoff
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Katie Hoff, a three-time 2008 Olympic medalist, withdrew from the World Short Course Championships in Doha, Qatar, in December, because she’s been advised against international air travel following two blood clots in her lungs.

“I do not believe it would be right for me to [compete at Short Course Worlds] when I am not 100 percent,” Hoff said in a statement, according to Swimming World.

Hoff, 25, pulled out of three events and was 27th in the 100m freestyle at the U.S. Championships in August. She thought she was slowed by an intercostal strain at that meet but since learned the problem was the blood clots.

She’s not traveling internationally as a precaution, she said. Hoff plans to enter the Minneapolis Grand Prix in two weeks and a full schedule in 2015. Hoff took a yearlong sabbatical after failing to make the 2012 U.S. Olympic team.

Nick Thoman, the London Olympic 100m backstroke silver medalist, also pulled out of Short Course Worlds. Thoman dealt with a shoulder injury for much of 2014 after taking time off after the Olympics.

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Women’s stars fail to make Pan Pacific Championships team

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IRVINE, Calif. — The U.S. will fly 60 swimmers to Australia this week to prepare for the Pan Pacific Championships. It will depart without three swimmers who have combined to win 51 Olympic and World Championships medals.

Natalie Coughlin, Allison Schmitt and Katie Hoff were the three biggest names to enter the U.S. Championships last week and fail to make the top three in any individual event (or top four for a relay).

Therefore, they did not qualify for the Pan Pacific Championships. Therefore, they cannot qualify for the 2015 World Championships.

This year is the first year since 2000 and the Sydney Olympics that not one of Coughlin, Schmitt or Hoff will compete at a major international meet.

Coughlin, the oldest women’s swimmer at the U.S. Championships at 31, finished seventh in the 100m freestyle Wednesday and sixth in the 50m free Sunday.

Coughlin, who got really sick last week due to food poisoning from bad shrimp, said she feels good about moving forward with her career.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been to a meet before where I could say I did everything in my power to be ready, and I did,” she said. “There’s always going to be stumbles along the way.”

The three-time Olympian owns 32 combined Olympic and Worlds medals, the most of any U.S. woman ever.

“Sometimes it serves as motivation,” said Coughlin, noting Matt Grevers, who missed 2010 Pan Pacs and 2011 Worlds and won Olympic 100m back gold in 2012. “Sometimes you need that extra kick, that salt in the wound.”

U.S. Pan Pacs roster

Schmitt, a six-time Olympic medalist, failed to make the eight-woman final in all of her events — the 100m, 200m and 400m frees.

Schmitt, who won as many medals in London as Missy Franklin (five), also missed the 2013 World Championships team.

“The bigger picture is 2016,” said Schmitt, who recently signed with Adidas, whose slogan is “All In.” “Yeah, it’s disappointing, and I was hoping to do better this Nationals, but things happen. It gives me more motivation and things to work on.”

Hoff won three medals each at the 2005 Worlds, 2007 Worlds and 2008 Olympics. She missed the 2012 Olympic Team and took a yearlong sabbatical.

Hoff had strong results this spring, but injury kept her from showing that form in Irvine, where she pulled out of three events and was 27th in the prelims in the 100m free.

Add in the fact that reigning Olympic 200m breaststroke champion Rebecca Soni is retired and that Olympic 100m butterfly champion Dana Vollmer hasn’t competed in nearly a year. 

Franklin and Katie Ledecky will lead the U.S. women to Pan Pacs, but their surrounding cast will not include the other most recognizable recent names in U.S. women’s swimming.

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