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Swimming: A tough day for Cal legend Coughlin

By Jeff Faraudo
Tuesday, June 26th, 2012 at 6:47 pm in Alumni, Olympics.

Former Cal star Dana Vollmer won the 100-meter butterly at the U.S. Olympic swim trials in Omaha, but 11-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin had a rough day.

Coughlin finished just seventh in the 100 fly — more than a full second out of second place, necessary to earn a bid to the London Games. Vollmer won in 56.50 seconds — just off the American record of 56.42 she set in Monday’s semifinals. Coughlin touched in 58.66.

Perhaps just as telling — Coughlin was just seventh later in the evening in the semifinals of the 100 backstroke, her signature event.

The 29-year-old advanced to Wednesday’s final, but her time of 1:00.63 is far from her four-year-old American record of 58.94.

In the final, Coughlin will chase young talent, starting with 17-year-old Missy Franklin, the fastest semifinal qualifier at 59.06. Rachel Bootsma, 18, was second at 59.10, Olivia Smoliga, 17, next at 59.82, and Elizabeth Pelton, 18, fourth at 1:00.31.

Bootsma and Pelton will swim at Cal as freshmen next season.

Coughlin will test herself against those young swimmers — and father time itself — with an Olympic bid on the line Wednesday night.

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