Count Great Falls' Kate Ziegler and Towson's Katie Hoff among the trio of teens the United States is counting on to generate medals and excitement at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.
Ziegler, 17; Hoff, 16; and Jessica Hardy, 18; each claimed a pair of individual medals in their first world championships here at Jean-Drapeau Park, and Hoff and Hardy added relay medals.
On the last night of the eight-day meet Sunday, Hoff won her second individual gold and third overall, touching the wall in the 400-meter medley final in 4 minutes 36.07 seconds.
Hoff, who also won golds in the 200 medley and 4x200 relay, said she found these championships much less nerve-wracking than last year's Summer Games, when she brought no medals back home.
"We're just like the new group over the next four years," Hoff said. "We're all just kind of learning."
Hardy claimed her second silver of the meet in Sunday's 50 breaststroke final, finishing .40 seconds behind Australia's Jade Edmistone, who set a world record in 30.45 seconds.
Though Hardy lost the 100 breast final to Australia's Leisel Jones, she broke Jones's world record in the event in the semifinals, and added a third silver in the 4x100 relay.
Ziegler wrapped up her two gold medals in the 800 and 1,500 free Saturday night.
"Particularly on the women's side, we have a very young team with some young stars that are only going to get better," U.S. women's coach Jack Bauerle said. "This has been a real coming out party for them."
Hard Lessons for Phelps
Michael Phelps bowed out of the championships with five gold medals, one silver and a hanging head. Phelps, 20, who swam the butterfly leg in Sunday's preliminary round of the 400 individual medley relay, called the week an "eye-opener."
"I was able to not have the success I wanted but I was able to learn a lot this week," he said. "That should carry me through the next few years."
Phelps failed to medal in two new events, the 100 and 400 freestyle, and he did not swim any personal-best times here.