American superstar Natalie Coughlin opted out of the USA Swimming National Championships in Atlanta this weekend, but strangely chose to race at the Georgia Invitational in nearby Athens instead.
She swam a loaded morning schedule, but handled it spectacularly to stand out even among very fast collegiate races. Remember that as good as Coughlin is in long course, her incredible underwaters make her even better in short course (regardless of where she’s at with her training). In the 100 fly, she swam a 50.87, which blew away Auburn sophomore Olivia Scott who was the 2nd finisher. Scott’s time of 51.86 was still good enough for an NCAA automatic qualifying time.
Though yards-rankings aren’t all that significant in this stage of Coughlin’s career, that ties her for the 9th fastest swim ever and the 4th-best of her career. People forget how good of a butterflier she was as a younger swimmer.
Coming back a short time later in the 100 breaststroke, she marked a 1:01.45, which is pretty solid for a race that she hasn’t swum since since she the state meet when she was a junior in high school at 16 (she went a 1:04.35 then).
And finally she finished her morning with her best event the 100 backstroke by posting a 51.89. That’s not a great time, but that point of the meet she was probably pretty dead. Georgia’s Michelle McKeehan was the top collegiate finisher in that race just behind at 52.29.
Might this start bringing speculation about a potential 200 IM bid for the London Olympics? It already has, in fact, among our readers. That would probably make the 200 IM one of the top two races at the Olympic Trials, though I’d still guess it’s a long shot.