Natalie Coughlin Will Enter Three Events at 2016 Olympic Trials

American 33-year old superstar swimmer Natalie Coughlin will enter the 50 free, 100 free, and 100 backstroke for the 2016 Olympic Trials, she affirmed on Tuesday afternoon at the launch event for the new Speedo racing suit in New York City.

The 12-time Olympic medalist, which ties her for the 8th-most by any athlete in any sport in history and second-most by a woman, will swim the same number of events as she did in 2012, but with one slight tweak. In her last go-around in Omaha, Coughlin raced the 100 back, 100 free, and 100 fly, but managed to only make the team as a relay swimmer in the 100 free.

For 2016, she’ll drop the 100 fly and replace it with the 50 free: an event in which she’s never won an individual medal at a major international meet.

The 100 back, however, is the bigger news on view of the macro-cycle. While that sounds funny, given that she’s a two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time World Champion in the event, Coughlin took a sharp-turn away from the 100 back after London. She didn’t swim the race at the 2013 U.S. National Championships or the 2014 National Championships. In fact, she didn’t swim the race once in 2012 after the Olympic Trials, in 2013, or in 2014.

However, in late 2014, she eased her way back into the event with a short course meters swim, and since it has returned as a regular event in her schedule. That includes at the 2015 Pan American Games where she swam 59.05 on a medley relay leadoff that ended her as 6th-fastest in the world (and the fastest American) last year.

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5 years ago

100 free she may grab a relay spot which would give a bronze if us does it right. 100 back is probably her best chance to medal and she might actually be the first at us ot. 50 free she may qualify but it seems more a warm up and internationally thls event is too hard for her to medal. She can go for 2 medals at Rio!

samuel huntington
5 years ago

I can see her going 58.8 at OT and getting one of the spots

5 years ago

Go Natalie! I’m rooting for you!

5 years ago

She has, in my mind, a real chance for 3 medals this summer. One in the 100 back if she can swim sub 59, one in the 4×100 free relay, and one in the medley relay either as the prelims or finals swimmer based on her performance in the individual event and on that of the other Americans (read Missy/other backstrokers).

5 years ago

I am very excited and hopeful for her 100 back this time around! OTs hurry up and get here.

5 years ago

I wonder if Natalie eased back into the 100 back because Missy seemed to stagnate in long course meets after she went to Cal.

Steve-O Nolan
Reply to  mikeh
5 years ago

I believe she said a while back she trained backstroke every now and again because it was either easier on her shoulders or just to switch it up a bit. (Or both? Can’t remember, it was…oof, years ago now.) Jumped in a couple backstroke races at meets because of it and swam pretty well.

Reply to  mikeh
5 years ago

That, and also I think she figured some others including Bootsma and Pelton would continue to improve too after both went under 1:00 back in 2012. She had a bad meet at Trials and a bad year that year due to overtraining syndrome. She switched to freestyle to get a fresh start and reinvent herself, but it took her a little while to figure out she could get her backstroke back too, and that the others hadn’t improved as much as she thought they would.

5 years ago

I’ve been a big fan on Natalie ever since I saw her break 1:00 in the 100 back at Fort Lauderdale in 2002. I’ve been happy to see her refocus her efforts on this event. If this is her last olympics, it would be a fitting finale for her to come to the podium one last time in the event she most excelled at.

Bad Anon
5 years ago

100backstroke is very competitive internationally ; Seebohm 58.23 best
Maddy Wilson 58.7 ; Hosszu 58.7 ; Nielsen 58.8 ; Franklin has a PB of 58.3; China’s Fu is 59.0 at best. It will be incredibly difficult for Coughlin to medal in international waters ; 58.50 will be needed to medal ; it’ll be a catfight ; Seebohm looks surefire gold fave. Medley relay and 400free relay best medal chances for Nat

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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