Twelve-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin has decided to scratch the 50 free, her final event of the 2016 Olympic Team Trials.
“I’ve decided to pull out of the 50 freestyle,” she said during a press conference at the close of Friday morning’s prelims. “You know, it’s a difficult decision because you train for so many hours to get to this meet and to get to that stage, which is hopefully the Olympics.”
She clarified that this decision to pull out of the 50 free after missing the Rio Olympic team in the 100 free and 100 back is not a decision to retire.
“I’m not announcing my retirement or anything like that,” she said. “It means I’m not going to the Olympics… It will always be a part of my life, and I don’t really see a point in saying ‘it’s over’ because it will always be there.”
When asked why she was pulling out of the 50 free, she said that she would rather watch her teammates and friends swim.
“My focus going into the Trials was the 100 back and the 100 free…” she said. “I wasn’t going to have a best time. I knew that, and I’d rather cheer on my team.”
Coughlin feels that, although she has had an incredible year and past four years, she just wasn’t on top of her game coming into the Trials.
“I’ve definitely been off for a few months. I’ve definitely been tired and not been able to get myself out of the hole, but it’s not for lack of working hard…” she said. “But I don’t look at the past four years as wasted time or anything, I’ve had lifetime bests in the past year… I’m really happy with what I was able to accomplish over the past few years. That momentum just wasn’t able to continue forward.”
She reiterated that swimming will always be part of her life.
“I will definitely continue to swim because I love it, and I can’t imagine myself not being fit and not being healthy.”