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Beijing Bound

Great Falls’ Kate Ziegler qualifies for upcoming Olympics.

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Kate Ziegler holds several long distance swimming records.

Great Falls resident and swimming sensation Kate Ziegler earned a spot on the 2008 U.S. Olympics Team with a second place finish in the 400-meter freestyle event at the Olympic Trials in Omaha Monday night.

Ziegler, a Bishop O’Connell High graduate, finished behind Towson’s Katie Hoff, who was favored to win the 400-free race. Hoff, by claiming first, guaranteed her spot at the upcoming Olympics in Beijing, China.

Ziegler, although she did not automatically qualify as the second place finisher in the 400 event at the Trials, is still pretty much assured of having a spot on the U.S. team. Second place finishers at Trials are almost assured of a team roster spot.

Ziegler’s best event is the 800-free. The finals for that race at this week’s Trials are set for Saturday. Prior to that on Tuesday, Ziegler was set to also compete in the 200-free, another event Hoff is expected to win.

Ziegler excels in long distance swimming where she holds world records in both the 1500-meters freestyle long and short courses, as well as the 800-meters short course. She holds the U.S. record in the 1650 yards free. Ziegler’s best shot at an Olympics gold will be in the 800.

Four years ago as a 15-year old, Ziegler made a strong showing at the Olympic Trials, although she did not qualify for that year’s 2004 Olympic Games.