Natalie Coughlin looked primed for World Championship number three in this 100 backstroke. Using her world-famous start, she led every stroke of this race, except for the last one. At the very last touch, she was beaten out by both China's Zhao Jing (59.05) and Anastasia Zueva of Russia (59.06). Perhaps Coughlin's lack of racing this year cost her at the finish, as that's something that's very difficult to do in practice?
Whatever the reason, Coughlin was still impessive to take the podium for the bronze in 59.15. That marks by two tenths the fastest she’s ever been in textile.
For Zhao Jing, this swim brings to fruition a ton of minor-championship potential over the last two years. She was the first female under 59 seconds in textile in 2010, and capped that off with a short course World Championship, but many still doubted her. Whereas Coughlin had this race won until the final stroke, Zhao wasn't really in this race until the final stroke, and a great lunge won it for her.
Zueva's swim is quite encouraging for the Russian medley relay, and her breaststroker Yuliya Efimova will come up later with a chance to further that group's chances.
Australia's Emily Seebohm took a valiant 4th place finish in 59.21, which is as good of a result as anyone could have hoped for coming into this meet after all of her health problems. Canada's Sinead Russell, who twice broke the Canadian Record in this meet, just ran out of gas here to finish as the only swimmer above a minute in 1:00.20, but her quality throughout the first two rounds shouldn't be ignored. If that 18-year old can shape up her build-by-round by London, she's dangerous.