Coughlin: 2:09.77 US Record 200 Medley
Jun 7, 2008
Craig Lord
A round of meets in the US: Janet Evans INTL and grand prix events in Charlotte and Omaha; Phelps as fast as Thorpey's Athens 100 free bronze and inside his own 2004 winning time on 'fly

The meet that takes its name from legend Janet Evans (still holding on to that 800m world record), offered evidence of the strength of a gathering storm called Natalie Coughlin, a woman who has spoken of being inspired as a girl by the achievements and attitude of the distance ace who took three golds in Seoul, 1988.

Coughlin scorched a 2:09.77 US record in the 200m medley to become the first American woman below the 2:10 mark - and third ever alongside the dubious effort of Wu Yanyan, subsequently suspended, and of the recent trials showing and world record of bodysuited Stephanie Rice (AUS). The US record had stood to Katie Hoff at 2:10.05. How long will the 2:09.77 last is the question.

'I've only done this event twice in the last five years,' Coughlin said through USA Swimming. 'It was obviously a good swim. I didn't have anything else to swim today. It was the first on the schedule, that's why I swam it.'

Jessica Hardy put in a solid 1:07.04 in the 100m breaststroke before winning the 50 free sprint in 24.98. The men's blast went to Jason Lezak in 22.34. Hungarian hopeful and Trojan-based Tamas Kerekjarto set a meet record of 2:01.76 in the 200m medley and another meet standard fell in the 100m breaststroke, in 1:01.52 to Damir Dugonjic, of Slovenia and Cal Aquatics.

The US Grand Prix series, fuelled by Japanese car maker Toyota that does much to help the International Swimming Hall of Fame, is close to its conclusion, with Michael Phelps, a man aiming for more medals in Beijing this summer than most nations are able to aspire to, at the helm of the race for the $20,000 prize.

Omaha: They say that US swimmers suffer from lack of interest in their sport back home (not that it ever appears to affect their performance) but a crowd of more than 5,000 was in Omaha to watch Phelps and Kate Ziegler, Peter Vanderkaay and others practise for a perfect summer. Phelps took the 100m freestyle in 48.56 - for those who can't remember, that's the time that brought bronze to Ian Thorpe in Athens 2004 - and the 100m butterfly in 51.04, 0.21sec better than his own winning time in Athens.

Ziegler, after polishing off the 1,500m, took the 400m in 4:07.01, and Vanderkaay covered the same distance in 3:45.60. In the 200m breaststroke, Caitlin Leverenz, on 2:26.00, and Eric Shanteau, on 2:12.18 looked solid.

Charlotte: Mary DeScenza put in a 58.54 in the 100m butterfly, Ryan Lochte a 4:16.56 400m medley and a 1:49.00 in the 200m freestyle. The same distance was covered by Kara Lynn Joyce in 1:59.36 and Florida-based sub-minuter Gemma Spofforth (GBR) took the 50m back in 28.85.