By John Lohn
Photos by Peter H. Bick
MONTREAL, Canada, July 26. WOW. That pretty much sums up the shocking developments in the championship final of the women’s 100 backstroke. While all eyes were focused on American Natalie Coughlin, the reigning Olympic champ, Zimbabwe’s Kirsty Coventry slipped in and took gold with a solid time of 1:00.24. A day earlier, Coventry won silver in the 200 individual medley.
Coughlin touched first at the 50-meter point and led the field through a good portion of the final lap. But, nearing the wall, Coughlin began to fade and Coventry moved ahead, winning the race out of Lane 1. More, Germany’s Antje Buschschulte also passed Coughlin and picked up the silver medal in 1:00.84. Coughlin settled for the bronze with an effort of 1:00.88, slower than her semifinal time of 1:00.59.
Having just concluded a stellar collegiate career at Auburn University, Coventry has established herself as one of the world’s finest all-around swimmers. An elite backstroker and individual medley performer, she’s also proven her worth as a middle-distance freestyler. At last summer’s Olympic Games, Coventry walked away with three medals, including gold in the 200 back.
Japan’s Reiko Nakamura was the fourth-place finisher in 1:01.00 and fifth place went to New Zealand’s Hannah McLean (1:01.16). The sixth through eighth positions were occupied by Japan’s Hanae Ito (1:01.25), Denmark’s Louise Ornstedt (1:01.36) and Australia’s Sophie Edington (1:01.97).