Natalie Coughlin and Maggie Bowen Highlight Auburn Invitational
Dec. 3, 2002
DEFENDING NATIONAL CHAMPIONS HOST BEARS: The No. 9 California women's swimming and diving team (5-1, 1-0) competes at the Auburn Invitational in Auburn, Ala., this week. Besides the Golden Bears, the No. 1-ranked Tigers also host No. 11 Virginia and No. 22 South Carolina. The meet will follow the standard NCAA format, including platform diving and the 1650 freestyle event. The preliminaries begin at 10 a.m. on Thursday and Friday, with finals at 6 p.m. Saturday's schedule begins prelims at 9:30 a.m. and finals at 5:30 p.m.
LAST COMPETITION: Junior Natalie Coughlin continues to shine this season, after breaking three world and four American records and earning Swimmer and Performance of the Meet honors at the FINA World Cup in East Meadow, N.Y., Nov. 22-23. Coughlin set a short course world record in the 100m fly (56.34) and an American record in the short course 50m back (27.08) on the first day of competition. She also defended her title in the 200m back (2:05.76), in which she had set a world record in 2001. In the meet's final day of competition, Coughlin broke two more world records, in the 100m back (56.71)-shaving time off of her previous world record (57.08) set last year-and in the 100m IM (58.80). Swimming against some of the best swimmers in the world, several other Bears qualified for event finals. Other impressive swims for Cal included junior Natalie Griffith's fifth-place finish in the 400m IM (4:52.08) and eight-place finish in the 200m fly (2:20.13), while freshmen Helen Silver and Ashley Chandler also posted fine finishes. Silver notched a sixth-place showing in the 200m back (2:15.22) and finished seventh in the 100m back (1:02.43), while Chandler placed fifth in the 800m free (8:49.46), sixth in the 400m IM (5:01.11) and eighth in the 400m free (4:20.92).
2001-02 RECAP: The Golden Bears had eight swimmers reach All-America status. All-Americans included Coughlin, Becks, Harper and Staciana Stitts, while Micha Burden, Lauren Medina, Ashley Whitney and Kyoko Yokouchi earned honorable mention honors. Coughlin, the 2001 and 2002 NCAA and Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year who has broken six world records and 31 American records, capped a superb freshman year with an even more successful sophomore season. She earned the USA Swimming Athlete of the Year and Performance of the Year award for her world record breaking swim in the 100-meter backstroke. At 58.59, Coughlin shattered the record, becoming the first female to ever post a sub-minute finish. At the NCAA Championships, she won national titles in the 100 fly (50.01), and 100 (49.97) and 200 back (1:49.52), setting NCAA records in all three events-breaking the old NCAA records she had set in 2001. Cal finished eighth at the 2002 NCAA Championships, bolstered by Coughlin's three wins, Stitts' fourth-place finish in the 100 breast, and the team's national runner-up finishes in the 200 and 400 medley relays. Cal placed fourth at the Pac-10 Championships, bettering its fifth-place finish from the year before. The Bears won five titles at the 2002 championships, as Coughlin set new conference records in the 200 free (1:43.30) and 100 (50.71) and 200 back (1:50.90).
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS: Cal has only competed against Auburn once before, posting a 184-78 win against the Tigers in 1998. Since that time, Auburn has flourished and defeated powerhouse SEC rival Georgia to win its first NCAA Swimming Championship last season. The top-ranked Tigers return all 11 swimmers that competed and scored points at the NCAA Championships, including senior Maggie Bowen who was runner-up to Natalie Coughlin in individual points with 57. So far this season, Auburn is 2-0 after defeating No. 4 Stanford and Pacific in the Tigers' recent trip out West. This is the Bears' first time competing against Virginia and second time against South Carolina. Cal's last meeting with the Gamecocks was a 135-122 victory on Nov. 4, 2000 in Berkeley. Last season, Virginia placed second at the ACC Championship. So far this year, the Cavaliers sport a 3-0 record with wins over South Carolina, Duke and Penn State. South Carolina is 3-2 on the season with wins over Charleston, Kentucky and Clemson.
HEAD COACH TERI MCKEEVER: Teri McKeever, the 2002 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, is in her 11th season as Cal's head women's swimming coach. McKeever also won the American Swimming Coaches Association's Coach of the Year award last month. She has an 89-38 (.701) dual meet record with the Golden Bears and a 143-60 (.704) overall record (five yeas as women's head coach at Fresno State). In the last six seasons, she has led Cal to top 10 national finishes every year, including an eighth place showing at the 2002 NCAA Championships.