Cal Women's Swimming Finishes Eighth at the 2002 NCAA Championships
March 23, 2002
AUSTIN, TX - The California women's swim team (7-2), led by sophomore Natalie Coughlin's three NCAA titles and national runner-up finishes in the 200 and 400 medley relays, placed eighth (245 points) at the 2002 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships in Austin, TX. Teri McKeever's squad has now finished in the Top 10 nationally each of the last six years.
A highlight for Cal in day three of the NCAA Championships was Coughlin, the 2001 NCAA Swimmer of the Year and a finalist for the Sullivan Award, winning her third individual event of the meet - the 200 back. She swam the 200 back in an American, NCAA and U.S. Open record time of 1:49.52, topping her own record set last year (1:50.90) by more than a second and a half. Teammate Alice Henriques placed sixth in the 200 back with a time of 1:56.32.
On Saturday, Coughlin also helped the Bears to a fifth-place finish in the 400 free relay (3:17.52, Coughlin 47.47, Danielle Becks 49.15, Michelle Harper 50.25, Staciana Stitts 50.65). In that relay, her lead-off time swimming the 100 free was an NCAA, American and U.S. Open record time of 47.47, topping the record that had earlier been set by Georgia's Maritza Correia (47.56) during the 2002 NCAA regular 100 freestyle competition.
On Friday, Coughlin was the national champion in the 100 fly and the 100 back. She set an NCAA, American and U.S. Open record in both the 100 fly with a time of 50.01 and the 100 back with a mark of 49.97. She is the first woman to ever swim under 50 seconds in the 100-yard back.
Another highlight for Cal on Friday was finishing as the national-runner up in the 200 medley relay with a school record time of 1:37.88 (Coughlin 23.41, Staciana Stitts 27.31, Alice Henriques 24.60, Danielle Becks 22.56). Junior Staciana Stitts also finished fourth in the 100 breast (1:00.40) and Cal's 800 free relay (Becks, Ashley Whitney, Lauren Medina, Micha Burden) was ninth (7:16.08).
On Thursday, the Bears finished as the national runner-ups in the 400 medley relay with a school record time of 3:32.55. Coughlin had broken her former American record in the 100 back with a time of 50.57, swimming the lead-off leg of Cal's 400 medley relay. The other members of the Bears 400 medley relay included junior breaststroker Staciana Stitts (59.68), senior butterflyer Alice Henriques (53.76) and sophomore freestyler Danielle Becks (48.54).
Also on Thursday, Cal's 200 free relay placing fourth with a time of 1:30.13. Members of the 200 free relay included junior Michelle Harper (23.40), Coughlin (21.53), Becks (22.35) and Stitts (22.85).