Swimming World Performance of the Week: Natalie Coughlin’s 50 Backstroke

Natalie Coughlin
Photo Courtesy: David Farr

Natalie Coughlin said a couple of years ago that freestyle is her new focus on the Road to Rio. She’s done pretty well with that new strategy toward getting a fourth Olympic berth, but after setting an American record in the 50-meter backstroke in Santa Clara, we hope that she’s giving serious thought to returning to backstroke.

Coughlin swam a 27.51 in the 50 back in Santa Clara, breaking Rachel Bootsma’s American record. Even Coughlin was surprised by the result, considering backstroke is now a secondary stroke for the former 100 back world record holder. Many in the United States probably were excited when Coughlin said she was stepping away from backstroke. “One less person to worry about,” many girls probably said.

But she’s dabbled in backstroke a lot in 2015, including a 1:00.08 in a 100 back time trial last month. The focus for the remainder of the summer will be sprint freestyle, as Coughlin will swim the 50 and 100 free at the Pan American Games. But the success she’s had in backstroke this year has to be rattling around in her mind as well.

Coughlin didn’t make the 2012 Olympic team in the 100 backstroke, denying her a chance to defend her 2008 title. But even her competitors can’t deny that they would love to see her in the 100 back in Omaha next year. Coughlin adds a spark – and a sparkle – to every race, and her strong competitive fire could make the 100 backstroke a very thrilling race to watch next summer. That event comes before the 100 free, so it could be a “getting the cobwebs out” swim that could turn into something amazing for Coughlin.

Congratulations, Natalie Coughlin, on earning the Swimming World Performance of the Week!

Natalie Coughlin sets 50 backstroke American record in Santa Clara


  1. Shailendra Negi

    Coughlin swam a 27.51 in the 50 back in Santa Clara,

  2. Nicki Jackson

    Jessi They have your bathers on 😀 Look great!