Natalie Coughlin Places Fourth in the 50 Fly at the World Championships.

July 26, 2001

FUKOUKA, JAPAN - Cal's Natalie Coughlin, the 2001 Pac-10 and NCAA Swimmer of Year as a freshman, placed fourth in the 50-meter butterfly Thursday at the World Swimming Championships in Fukuoka, Japan. Coughlin finished just out of medal contention with a time of 26.70. She trailed world record-holder Inge de Bruijn of the Netherlands (25.90), and Therese Alshammar (26.18) and Anna-karin Kammerling (26.45) of Sweden.

On Wednesday, Coughlin was a member of the United States' 4x200-meter free relay that was disqualified on a controversial decision after appearing to have won the gold medal. The team of Coughlin (1:59.94), Cristina Teuscher (1:58.54), Julie Hardt (1:59.70) and Diana Munz (1:58.35) swam under the American record with a time of 7:56.53, but a malfunction in the timing system showed Teuscher leaving the blocks early. The video shows she clearly did not leave early and the referee on deck reversed the disqualification. However, on Thursday, the FINA Jury of Appeals reversed the decision again and re-disqualified the U.S.

USA Swimming National Team Director Dennis Pursley has asked the FINA Bureau to reconsider the decision based on the fact that the timing system had malfunctioned several times before this instance. And, whenever a protest is made, the time is adjusted accordingly after viewing the official video, the only exception being this case with the relay. Both the official video and the race analysis video show clearly that Teuscher did not leave the blocks before Coughlin touched the wall. USA Swimming is expecting a response from FINA per this request.

On Tuesday at the World Championships, Coughlin had placed third in the 50-meter back (28.54), an event won by former Bear teammate, Haley Cope (28.51).

Cope is the second Cal swimmer to win a gold medal at the World Championships as Anthony Ervin won the first gold medal for the United States Monday in the 50-meter freestyle (22.09).

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