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Olympics, Swimming: Natalie Coughlin Breaks 59, Wins 100 Back Gold in American Record -- August 11, 2008

By John Lohn

BEIJING, China, August 12. AFTER the semifinals of the women's 100 backstroke, there were questions as to whether Natalie Coughlin could knock off Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry and retain her gold medal. Well, turns out that the American got the job done, setting an American record of 58.96 to stay on the top step of the medal podium.

Coughlin pushed the pace during the first lap, splitting 28.52 at the 50-meter mark, well under world-record pace. From that point forward, it was about staying strong to the wall and fighting off the closing charge of Coventry. Having set the world record of 58.77 in the semifinals, Coventry couldn't muster that performance again and touched for silver in 59.19. It was her second silver of the Games, along with one in the 400 individual medley.


For Coughlin, who has spent the past six years redefining the event long before the rest of the world realized the 59-second realm, it was a major boost leading into the remainder of her program. Later in the night, Coughlin was scheduled to race the semifinals of the 200 individual medley.

Margaret Hoelzer, the world-record holder in the 200 backstroke, continued her impressive form in the shorter backstroke by picking up the bronze medalin 59.34, just ahead of the 59.38 turned in by Great Britain's Gemma Spofforth. When the final of the 200 back rolls around, Coventry and Hoelzer appear headed for a sensational battle.

Russian Anastasia Zueva was the fifth-place finisher in 59.40 and Japan's Reiko Nakamura also broke the one-minute mark, going 59.72 for sixth. France's Laure Manaudou, who is having a poor meet by her standards, was seventh in 1:00.10 and the eighth-place slot was filled by Japan's Hanae Ito in 1:00.18.


Results: 2008 Olympic Games - Swimming

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Reaction Time Comments

August 12, 2008 Great swim by Coughlin; mentally tough after Coventry took her record; she held it together. If she can figure out a way to stay in the middle of the lane; she'll get her record back.
Submitted by: liquidassets
August 12, 2008 Wow is Coughlin tough! This swim shows how professionally she handled her heats. I was not confident she was going to beat Coventry, la is right Mentally Tough
Submitted by: PhatMatt
August 12, 2008 I wasn't either, I'm a big Coughlin fan but on another thread I had picked Coventry earlier in the week after her 400 IM looked so sharp (she splitted 1:06 during it) and her general toughness when it comes to racing, and then her saying the semi felt so easy. Her start and finish were bad though.

I won't doubt Coughlin in the 100 back again. I did see a quote from yesterday that she didn't feel that great the last few days before the meet and the first couple days of it. So whatever that was, hopefully she's back to her usual self. She cut it a little close in the 200 IM semis, but the depth was very good. But her gamble paid off and sets her up for a 4 way barnburner tonite with Rice/Hoff/Coventry. I think any of them could win, though Rice is the most rested so I give the nod to her.
Submitted by: liquidassets
August 12, 2008 Fantastic for Coughlin!! Way to stay cool!

Manaudou is a hot mess at these Games. At least she moved up in placing from that train wreck she calls the 400m Free... Sad...
Submitted by: Hodori88
Reaction Time responses do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Swimming World Magazine or SwimmingWorldMagazine.com.
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Kirsty Coventry, Natalie Coughlin and Margaret Hoelzer on the awards stand after the 100 back at the Beijing Olympics
Photo By: Reuters

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