By John Lohn
Photos by Peter H. Bick
MONTREAL, Canada, July 25. THE world-record holder in the event and only woman in history to crack the one-minute barrier, the United States’ Natalie Coughlin posted the top swim in the semifinals of the 100 backstroke. Coughlin eased to a 1:00.59 performance, which gave her a slight margin over Germany’s Antje Buschschulte (1:00.67).
The Olympic champion, Coughlin is nearly untouchable in the two-lap dorsal and should stand on the top step of the medal podium on Tuesday night. While Buschschulte managed the feat, no other women could dip under 1:01, although New Zealand’s Hannah McLean turned in a showing of 1:01.14. She was followed in fourth place by Japan’s Reiko Nakamura (1:01.22).
The silver medalist in the event at the Athens Olympics, Zimbabwe’s Kirsty Coventry tied for the sixth-fastest qualifying time for the final, as she and Denmark’s Louise Ornstedt stopped the timer in 1:01.45. They trailed the fifth-place qualifier, Japan’s Hanae Ito (1:01.25). Australia’s Sophie Edington grabbed the last invitation to the championship race, going 1:01.64.