Dec. 5, 2002
Junior Natalie Coughlin was named the 2002 Female World Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World and Junior Swimmer magazine. She was selected from a panel of 12 of the world's most knowledgeable swimming writers from North America, Europe, Australia, Asia, South America and Africa. This is Coughlin's first such honor.
At the U.S. Summer National Championships in August, Coughlin became the first woman to break the one-minute barrier for the 100-meter backstroke (59.58), shattering China's Cihong He's 1994 mark of 1:00.16. At the championships she won five individual titles, the most ever for a swimmer since 1978. Also in August, at the Pan Pacific Championships in Yokohama, Japan, Coughlin won five gold medals (four individual), plus two silver medals in relays.
Recently, Coughlin broke three more world records at the FINA World Cup in East Meadow, N.Y., and ranks first in the world in three different strokes-100m butterfly, 100m backstroke and 100m IM.
During her collegiate 2002 season, Coughlin was named the NCAA Swimmer of the Year for the second consecutive time as she successfully defended each of her national collegiate titles in the 100 and 200-yard backstroke and 100-yard butterfly at the NCAA Championships last April.
A Sullivan Award finalist for the nation's most outstanding amateur athlete in 2002, Coughlin has broken six world records, four of which were shattered in 2002, and 31 American records during her career. As the female world swimmer of the year, Coughlin was also the unanimous choice as Female American Swimmer of the Year.
Australian Ian Thorpe was named the 2002 Male World Swimmer of the Year for the second consecutive time and fourth time in the last five years.