Host City: Beijing, China
Venue(s): Beijing National Aquatics Centre, Beijing Olympic Green, Beijing
Date Started: August 9, 2008
Date Finished: August 10, 2008
The story of the shorter of the two medley events should have been a showdown between two women who had exchanged the world record between over the early part of 2008. The current holder, America's [Katie Hoff], had also won the last two editions of the World Championships and this race was planned to yield her first of a possible six golds from these Games. Her main rival appeared to be Commonwealth Games champion, [Steph Rice] of Australia, whose world record at the Australian Olympic trials had lasted just a few months before Hoff bettered it at her own national trials. Beijing was not kind to Hoff and she failed to swim to her usual standard although even an under par performance was still good enough for a place on the podium.
The final itself turned instead into a battle between Rice and the 2004 bronze medal winner, [Kirsty Coventry] of Zimbabwe. Swimming in lane 1 after only just qualifying for the final, Coventry led at the halfway stage but a strong breaststroke leg saw Rice edging into a lead that she never gave up despite a strong finish from the Zimbawean. For her efforts at the Beijing Olympics Rice was named FINA's )World Swimmer of the Year).