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.