Natalie Coughlin, a 15-year-old sophomore at Carondelet High School, stroked into the history books last week when she set two national high school records while competing at the CIF/North Coast Section Championships in northern California.
In the 200 IM, she first swam 1:59.20 in prelims, breaking Emily Mastin’s national prep school mark of 1:59.53 set when she was a sophomore in 1995. In the finals, Coughlin came back to touch in 1:58.84, lowering her own prep school standard as well as the national public school mark of 1:58.91, set by Allison Wagner in 1994.
But Coughlin was saving the best for last. Swimming the 100 yard backstroke, the 15-year-old sensation, who swims for the Terrapins in U.S.S. competition, went 53.69 in prelims, chopping a full second off the national prep mark of 54.69 and just missing Misty Hyman’s national public school mark of 53.68. In the finals, Coughlin unleashed a monster swim, destroying Hyman’s record and touching in an astounding 52.86, making her the third fastest woman all-time in the event. For comparison’s sake, in March, Catherine Fox set an American and NCAA record of 52.71 at the NCAA Women’s Championships.