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Women's NCAAs, Day 3: Auburn's Kirsty Coventry Upsets Natalie Coughlin to Win the 200 Back -- March 20, 2004

By Phillip Whitten

200 meter backstroke
COLLEGE STATION, Texas, March 20. ON any given day…” You know the rest of the cliché. On any given day, anyone -- no matter how great – can be beaten.

You know the cliché, but you don’t really believe it.

Believe it!

Tonight, swimming the final individual event of her storied career, in which she was attempting to become the first woman to win the maximum of 12 events without a loss, Natalie Coughlin was defeated. Soundly.

At first it didn’t shape up that way. Natalie was under her own world record (2:03.62) pace for 150 meters and appeared to have the record –and the perfect 12 for 12 – all sewed up.

Then she faltered.

And Auburn’s Kirsty Coventry, who had just managed to keep contact with the leader through the first 50 meters, seized the moment. Rocketing ahead of Nat, Kirsty hit the wall in an NCAA record and history’s second-fastest time, 2:03.86. Kirsty’s teammate saw the opportunity and piled on, sneaking in for second in 2:05.55. Natalie followed in 2:06.54.

The impossible had happened. Natalie Coughlin was just human, after all. She had been beaten.

You know, on any given day….

Yeah, I know it’s a cliché. But I believe it now.


EVENT: 16 WOMEN's 200 Meter Backstroke

NCAA Record: 2:03.62 Natalie Coughlin Cal. Berkeley 2001
NCAA Meet Record: 2:06.70 Beth Botsford Arizona 2000
World Record: 2:03.62 Natalie Coughlin Cal. Berkeley 2001
American Record: 2:03.62 Natalie Coughlin Cal. Berkeley 2001
US Open Record: 2:03.62 Natalie Coughlin Cal. Berkeley 2001
QUALIFYING FOR "A" Cut: 1:58.24
QUALIFYING FOR This Meet: 1:59.26

RESULTS of FINALS

RANK NAME YEAR TEAM PRELIM TIME

CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL

1) COVENTRY, KIRSTY JR AUBURN 2:07.24 2:03.86**
:29.97 :31.31 :31.41 :31.17
** NCAA Meet Record:
2) HOELZER, MARGARET JR AUBURN 2:08.83 2:05.55
:29.89 :31.20 :31.76 :32.70
3) COUGHLIN, NATALIE SR CALIFORNIA 2:08.12 2:06.54
:28.81 :31.21 :31.87 :34.65
4) HAYES, JESSICA JR ARIZONA 2:09.36 2:07.84
:30.37 :32.18 :32.68 :32.61
5) HARRIGAN, KELLY SO RUTGERS 2:08.13 2:08.18
:30.10 :32.33 :32.88 :32.87
6) FARRELL, MAUREEN JR FLORIDA 2:09.07 2:08.65
:30.41 :31.96 :33.00 :33.28
7) RETRUM, LEAH FR FLORIDA 2:08.72 2:09.34
:30.87 :32.29 :33.01 :33.17
8) VOLCAN, ERIN SO AUBURN 2:09.24 2:10.22
:30.82 :32.35 :33.08 :33.97

CONSOLATION FINAL

9) FARGUS, JOANA JR SOUTHERN CAL. 2:10.33 2:09.97
:31.25 :32.78 :33.55 :32.39
10) WHITE, BRIELLE SO VIRGINIA 2:10.66 2:10.07
:30.89 :33.12 :32.83 :33.23
11) WYCLIFFE, ELIZABETH SO TEXAS 2:11.03 2:10.29
:30.65 :32.96 :33.54 :33.14
12) CHURA, HALEY FR GEORGIA 2:10.77 2:10.31
:31.40 :32.72 :33.18 :33.01
13) FESSEL, JACQUE SO TENNESSEE 2:11.17 2:10.79
:30.73 :33.54 :33.40 :33.12
14) MOSS, JERI SO AUBURN 2:10.62 2:11.78
:30.71 :32.61 :33.76 :34.70
15) WATANABE, NAOKO SR UCLA 2:11.70 2:11.86
:31.33 :33.14 :33.77 :33.62
16) JOHNSON, SUSAN FR WISCONSIN 2:11.33 2:12.15
:31.24 :33.13 :33.77 :34.01