By Phillip Whitten
LONG BEACH, Calif., July 8. NATALIE Coughlin breezed to the top seed in tomorrow’s final of the women’s 100-meter backstroke tonight at the US Olympic Trials in Long Beach.
The world record-holder in this event at 59.58 seconds, Coughlin clocked 1:00.91 in the semifinals, just off the 1:00.77 she swam in the prelims.
As expected, her former Cal Aquatics teammate, Haley cope, had the second-fastest time, 1:01.67, while Longhorn’s Hayley McGregory was third in 1:022.20.
The University of Virginia’s Brielle White, a product of the Philadelphia Department of Recreation program, became the first female PDR swimmer to final in the Olympic Trials, as she qualified fourth in 1:02.77.
Beth Botsford, the 1996 Olympic champion in this event was sixth, while Courtney Shealy, a 2000 Olympian in this event, was eighth in 1:02.91.