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  Wednesday, 14 August, 2002, 00:21 GMT 01:21 UK
Coughlin breaks world record
Natalie Coughlin
Coughlin broke the one-minute barrier
American teenager Natalie Coughlin set a new world record in the 100 metre backstroke at the United States Swim Championships on Tuesday.

Coughlin swam a time of 59.58 seconds in Fort Lauderdale - smashing a record which had stood for eight years.

It was also the first time any women had swam the distance in under one minute.

China's Cihong He set the old mark of 1min 00.16sec in 1994.

Coughlin becomes the first American to hold the world record since Catherine Ferguson in 1966.


Now I can just relax and enjoy the rest of the meet
Natalie Coughlin

It was the ninth world record broken at the Hall of Fame Aquatic Complex in Florida, and the first since 1991.

When Coughlin hit the turn in 28.86 seconds, inside He's split of 29.54 seconds, she brought the capacity crowd to its feet.

They stayed on their feet, cheering loudly, as the 19-year-old University of California student powered home.

"I was glad I finally did it," Coughlin said.

"Breaking the world record has been in the back of my mind, and I knew I could do it tonight.

"It takes a lot of pressure off. I'm glad people had such confidence in me to say, 'When's 59 going to happen?'

"They were saying that a year ago, when one minute was new to me. Now I can just relax and enjoy the rest of the meet."

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