After a rough US Olympic Trials, Natalie Coughlin has something to smile about. Though she did not swim in the finals of the 4×100 Freestyle relay Coughlin will earn herself a Bronze medal, having swum in the prelims. This ties her with Dara Torres and Jenny Thompson as the most decorated American female Olympian, and the most decorated female Olympic swimmer in what could be her final Olympic race.
Coughlin has won a medal in each of the 12 events she has swam at the Olympic Games. In 2004, she won her first individual gold, defeating Kirsty Coventry (ZIM) and Laure Manaudou (FRA) in the 100m Backstroke. She defended her title in this event in 2008, where she again defeated the Coventry (who was the world record holder at the time). In Omaha, Coughlin was beat by youngsters Missy Franklin and Rachel Bootsma in the 100 Backstroke. Coughlin’s third place finish was not enough for a chance to defend her backstroke title in London.
Natalie Coughlin swam college at Cal Berkeley where she currently trains with coach Teri McKeever. During her NCAA career, she was Swimmer of the Year three years running and won eleven individual NCAA titles. Coughlin is also one of the most successful World Championships swimmers, with eighteen medals spanning eleven years from Fukuoka 2001 to Shanghai 2011. She has also found her fair share of fame outside of the pool, making appearances on Dancing with the Stars.