Natalie Coughlin and her coach at California-Berkeley, Teri McKeever, have a decision to make in the next few weeks: which events to swim at the women's NCAA Championships. Right now, the California sophomore is in first place in the current Speedo/CSCAA Top 25 rankings in seven individual events. According to NCAA rules, a competitor can only swim a total of seven events, three of which can be individual events. Teri and Natalie have quite a few options open to them.
Natalie's seventh No. 1 time came this past weekend at the Cal-USC meet, when she swam 1:54.55 in the 200 yard butterfly. Natalie also holds the top spot in the 50-100-200 free (22.21-47.66-1:43.77), the 100-200 back (50.90-1:50.76) and the 100 fly (51.22). All these times have held up since the last weekend in November. In addition, she also has the third-fastest time in the 200 IM (1:57.54) and the No. 5 time in the 500 free (4:44.61).
Two Stanford swimmers have nation-leading times in the backstroke events from their meet Jan. 26 against Arizona State. Randall Bal led off their 400 medley relay in 46.77; while Markus Rogan is tops in the 200 back (1:43.42). Arizona's Roland Schoeman has the new No. 1 time in the 100 free (43.01), which came during their meet with Texas.
Special congratulations go to Villanova senior Katie Sosnowski. She competed on Feb. 1 against St. John's for the first time since a near-fatal auto accident April 27, 1997. In wrapping up her sophomore season, she made Big East finals appearances in the breaststrokes and qualified for the 1997 NCAAs in the 200 yard breast. Katie's accident resulted in massive head injuries as well as brain damage. It was feared she wouldn't survive at all, let alone swim again. But she returned to the pool, courtesy of special permission from the NCAA. Kristin came in fifth in the 200 breast (2:44.22) and seventh in the 100 breast (1:17.03), as well as contributing to a third-place 200 medley relay (1:57.55). But the fact that she swam at all is a remarkable statement about her will to survive and compete.
The next Speedo/CSCAA Top 25 list will appear Tuesday, Feb. 19. Please have all your times in to firstname.lastname@example.org, or faxed to 928-284-2477 no later than noon Mountain time Monday, Feb. 18. Also, please send any corrections or additions to the list.