Natalie Coughlin Wins Gold Medal in 100 Back at World Championships

July 28, 2001

FUKOUKA, JAPAN - Swimmers associated with the University of California continue to shine at the 2001 World Swimming Championships in Fukouka, Japan as the Golden Bears' Natalie Coughlin captured the gold medal in 100-meter backstroke Saturday.

Coughlin swam an American record time of 1:00.37. The previous American record of 1:00.77 was set by Lea Maurer when she won the gold in this event at the 1998 World Championships. The world mark is 1:00.16, set by China's He Cihong at the 1994 World Championships. Coughlin's time was the fifth-fastest performance in history.

'I've been waiting for this event all week,' said Coughlin, who won a bronze medal in the 50-meter back (gold was won by former Cal swimmer Haley Cope) and was fourth in the 50-meter fly earlier in the meet. 'I knew I could win it. It was really painful, but I'm so excited right now. I knew it was a tight race (for the most gold medals between the USA and Australia) and with what happened with the relays and everything else, every race counts. I could feel the support of my teammates. They were cheering like crazy before the race started. It helps your energy level to hear that.

'I'm looking forward to the relay tomorrow. With three disqualifications in relays this week, we really want to win this one. With three girls swimming behind you, it's so much easier to swim fast.'

In a credit to Cal's men's and women's swim programs, three Bears have now won gold medals at the World Championships. Anthony Ervin, who will a junior this collegiate season, won world titles in the 50 and 100 free, Cope (1998-2001) placed first in the 50-meter back and now Coughlin, who will be a sophomore this upcoming school year, in the world champ in the 100-meter back.

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