Natalie Coughlin's Exploits On ESPN

March 27, 2002

BERKELEY, CA - The exploits of sophomore Natalie Coughlin, who won three NCAA titles and helped Cal to national runner-up finishes in the 200 and 400 medley relays, and an eighth place finish (245 points) at the 2002 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships, can be seen Thursday on ESPN 2.

The 2002 NCAA Division I Women's Swimming and Diving Championships will be televised by ESPN2 on tape delay. Air date currently is scheduled for Thursday, March 28 at 12 p.m. (PST). A second broadcast is scheduled for Thursday, April 23 at 12:30 p.m. (PST) on ESPN. A story on Coughlin will also appear in this week's Sports Illustrated magazine.

Coughlin, the 2001 NCAA Swimmer of the Year and a finalist for the Sullivan Award, was simply spectacular at the 2002 NCAAs, winning her third individual event of the meet - the 200 back on the final day of the competition. 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.

Also on the final day of the NCAAs, Coughlin helped the Bears to a fifth-place finish in the 400 free relay. 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.

Earlier 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 Mar. 22 was finishing as the national-runner up in the 200 medley relay with a school record time of (Coughlin 23.41, Staciana Stitts 27.31, Alice Henriques 24.60, Danielle Becks 22.56).

On the first day of the NCAAs, 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 Stitts, Henriques and sophomore freestyler Danielle Becks (48.54).

'The records were in the back of my mind, but they weren't necessarily goals of mine,' said Coughlin. 'It is kind of funny how the 100 back, 100 fly and 200 back, generally the same times last year - 51, 51, 51, and this year they were 49, 49, 50. It's overwhelming (on performing this well), but it gets me pumped up for next year. I just look at what I can improve and do better for next season.'

Teri McKeever's squad has now finished in the Top 10 nationally each of the last six years.

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