Olympics, Swimming: Flash Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe Grabs 100 Back World Record in Semis -- August 10, 2008

By John Lohn

BEIJING, China, August 11. IT didn't take long for the fireworks to go off on the second morning of finals, and one of the best female swimmers in the world was the deliverer. One day after collecting the silver medal in the 400 individual medley, with a time that was under the former world record, Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry lit up the Water Cube in the 100 backstroke.

While she's better known for her prowess in the 200 back, Coventry has made herself the clear favorite for gold in the 100 distance, a world record in the semifinals serving as proof. Coventry went out comfortably in the second semifinal, then blitzed the field on the final lap to register a time of 58.77, well under Natalie Coughlin's world mark of 58.97.

Coventry has a chance to win four medals at these Games and now looks capable of pulling off a double in the backstroke events. Still, Coughlin can't be counted out, not with her track record in an event she has redefined over the past seven years. Coughlin won the first semifinal in 59.43 and will be the second seed in the final.

To challenge Coventry, however, Coughlin will have to muster up the form she had at last month's Olympic Trials. It was there that Coughlin became the first swimmer in history to break the 59-second barrier. Coughlin was followed in third by Japan's Reiko Nakamura, who was timed in 59.64. Nakamura had been 59.36 in the prelims.

Rounding out the field for the final were Russia's Anastasia Zueva (59.77), Great Britain's Gemma Spofforth (59.79), American Margaret Hoelzer (59.84), Japan's Hanae Ito (1:00.13) and France's Laure Manaudou (1:00.16). If Hoelzer stays to the track she followed at Trials, she could be in the medal mix tomorrow morning.

Results: 2008 Olympic Games - Swimming

Premium Members - Search More About: Kirsty Coventry

Reaction Time Comments

August 10, 2008 coventry has this in the bag. she said she slowed her tempo down which is very scary.
Submitted by: WUswimmer
August 10, 2008 Has anyone noticed that NOTHING ever seems to fluster Coventry? Whether she is out in lane one...eight...or her own lane in the parking lot, she keeps her focus on HER race and not on what the others are doing. I am in awe.
Submitted by: paddles
August 10, 2008 Great observation Paddles (man, I'm ALWAYS agreeing with you)!! :-)

I really think that somebody who can swim like that is truly having fun.... I get the feeling she's world class, but she doesn't feel the pressure of media expectations (I mean, are there even any Zimbabwaean media at the pool?).... In her mind: Silver? GREAT! Gold? Maybe... We'll see....

Love the parking lot comment! :-))
Submitted by: Hodori88
August 11, 2008 Choked is a very strong word for a man who only swam .5 over his best time. And I think he made a very good point in a post-game interview (can't remember, think it was on CBC) that having the trials only 4 weeks before the Games makes it difficult to be at your peak in Beijing.

And this is from Brendan Hansen, who never complains & is always an inspiring picture of humility. If he is moved to mention the absurdity of USS's scheduling I can only imagine how annoyed some others must be.

Most US swimmers needed to be at their peak to qualify at the trials. A few (Phelps, for one) could afford not to rest fully but most couldn't & some of those are paying the price now while many of their competitors swim with the advantage of having had their trials in March.

I'm a fan for life of Brendan after seeing his post-200 trials interview. I wish him more success in the future. I sure hope he continues swimming.
Submitted by: dah_sab
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