June 9, 2008
Berkeley - Former California Golden Bear superstar and current Olympic great Natalie Coughlin torched the competition at the Janet Evans Invitational held at the McDonalds Swim Stadium at the University of Southern California, June 6-8. The meet served as one of the final opportunities for swimmers to compete prior to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, which will be held in Omaha, Neb., June 29 July 6. The trials will be broadcast on both the NBC and USA networks.
On Friday, the first night of competition, Coughlin broke the American record in the 200-meter individual medley with a time of 2:09.77 -- the third-fastest time ever clocked and the second-fastest in the world this year. Coughlin finished the race in 2:09.77, besting the previous record of 2:10.05 held by Olympian Katie Hoff.
"I've only done this event twice in the last five years," Coughlin said. "It was obviously a good swim. I didn't have anything else to swim today. It was the first on the schedule, that's why I swam it."
Coughlin, along with former Bear Erin Reilly, finished 2-3 respectively in the 200-meter freestyle in the second night of competition on Saturday.
Coughlin nearly erased her own world record in the 100-meter backstroke when she swam just .05 seconds off of the mark with a time of 59.27 in the final day of the Invitational on Sunday.
"I screwed up on my finish," Coughlin said. "I misjudged the wall. It just happens sometimes. At this stage in the game, you don't want to make mistakes. The bright side is it was a fast swim and I still have a lot to improve on."
At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Coughlin became the third American woman to win five medals at one Olympics (the others are Mary Lou Retton and Shannon Miller). She took gold in the 100m backstroke and the 4x200m freestyle relay, breaking the world record in that event. Coughlin also won silver medals in the 4x100m free relay and the 4x100m medley relay, and a bronze in the 100m free. Coughlin is no stranger to dominance in her sport. She has held the world record in the 100m back for six years, becoming the first woman to swim the event in less than one minute in 2002. She lowered her record at the 2007 World Championships, winning gold in the 100m back with a time of 59.44.