U.S. Olympic Trials: Flash Hayley McGregory Busts World Record in 100 Back Prelims…Only to Have Natalie Coughlin Take it Back Next Heat

By John Lohn

OMAHA, Nebraska, June 30. WHILE the first day of action at the Olympic Trials featured plenty of starpower, the fans in attendance were forced to wait until Day Two to get a look at the Golden Girl. No worries. Natalie Coughlin is ready to go and got her competition rolling in grand fashion in the prelims of the 100 backstroke.

One heat after Hayley McGregory lowered Coughlin's world record to 59.15, Coughlin took her crown right back as she checked in with a time of 59.03. It was one heck of a way to start the morning, where global standards usually don't highlight a prelim session. Then again, Coughlin is a special talent and always has something stellar in her arsenal.

Swimming in the 15th of 16 prelim heats, McGregory stormed through her first lap and was under world-record pace at the turn. When she touched and realized she had toppled Coughlin's world record of 59.21, McGregory celebrated with a fist pump. He status as fastest-ever, however, didn't last long.

In the next heat, Coughlin was just off McGregory's pace at the 50-meter mark, but used her superb closing speed to clock in at 59.03. The likelihood of that record lasting beyond tonight is not good, what with the two women set to return for semifinal action. It appears that the first sub-59 swim is just around the corner.

Best known as the world champ in the 200 backstroke, Margaret Hoelzer was third in the morning, clocking in at 1:00.86. She was followed in the next three positions by Lauren Rogers (1:01.01), Elizabeth Beisel (1:01.08) and Elizabeth Pelton (1:01.34). Grabbing seventh and eighth were Leona Jennings (1:01.36) and Leila Vaziri (1:01.72).

The rest of the field for tonight's semifinals will include Samantha Vanderbilt (1:01.85), Mary DeScenza (1:01.87), Katie Riefenstahl (1:02.03), Kristen Shickora (1:02.08), Margo McCawley (1:02.08), Jenny Connolly (1:02.08), Emile Ewing (1:02.30) and Erica Meissner (1:02.31).

Full Results

Video Footage Removed Due to NBC Restrictions
Go to Swimming World's 2008 Olympics Landing Page for the most comprehensive coverage of the meet on the Internet.

Natalie Coughlin reclaims the world record in the 100 backstroke at 2008 Olympic Trials.