Katherine Berkoff competes at the Firecracker Invitational in Missoula. (MTN Sports photo).

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Missoula swimmers Katharine Berkoff and Hanni Leach finished their third and final races at the U.S. National Championships on Friday. Both swam in the 50 meter, 100 meter, and 200 meter backstroke.

In their final chances in the pool, Berkoff finished in 20th place in the 100 meter prelims in 1:01.55. That gave the junior from Missoula Hellgate High School a spot in the third of three finals. She also finished 20th later on Friday in the finals, with a time of 1:01.76.

Leach, a junior at USC who previously swam at Hellgate, touched the wall in 1:03.19. Her 55th place finish in the 100 prelims did not qualify for finals.

Berkoff made plenty of noise as a teenager among the best swimmers in the country. She took 8th place in the 50 meter prelims on Thursday in 28.74, qualifying for the “A” finals. She improved her time (28.66) ending up in 7th place in her first ever top final at the national championships.

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Berkoff also swam the 200 meter backstroke prelims, taking 34th place. Her time of 2:15.17 was .97 seconds behind the last spot that advanced to finals.

Leach finished in 78th place in the 200, about 4 seconds behind Berkoff in 2:19.16. She took 54th place in the 50 meter prelims on Thursday with a time of 29.78.

Both swimmers came up through the Missoula Acquatic Club, and have set multiple state records while helping Hellgate during their current stretch of four straight team championships.

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