By Phil Whitten
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Aug. 16. NATALIE Coughlin did it again.
The 19 year-old phenom won her fifth title here — a feat accomplished previously only by Tracy Caulkins in 1978 — and she broke the oldest national record in the books.
Coughlin clocked 2:08.53 for the 200m backstroke, just 7-hundredths under Betsy Mitchell's 2:08.60, set June 27, 1986. Coughlin's time was the fastest in the world this year.
Coughlin went out hard, taking a full bodylength lead by the 25 meter mark. She split 29.73 for the first 50, well under Kristina Egerszegi's world record pace.
At the 100 she touched in 1:01.85, still well ahead of the Hungarian's pace. As Richard Quick pointed out, Coughlin's first 100 equaled Mitchell's best 100 — which, at the time, was the American record.
Coughlin fell behind WR pace on the third 50 (1:35.19), then came storming home for the American record.
Jamie Reid wsas second in 2:11.62.