Just over 3 years into her return to competitive swimming, Olympic bronze medalist Natalie Hinds has made a return to the University of Florida. Hinds raced collegiately at Florida from 2012 until 2016, retired from the sport after 2016 Olympic Trials, and made a comeback to the sport in 2018.
Hinds originally began training with the University of Georgia pro group when she made her comeback and found success in the summer of 2019 at the Pillips 66 Nationals. There, she placed 5th overall in the 50 freestyle (25.02) and 100 freestyle (54.34) and 8th in the 100 butterfly (58.78).
Two years later at the 2021 US Olympic Trials, Hinds swam her way to a spot on the US Olympic team for the 4×100 freestyle relay. She swam a 53.84 for 4th place at Trials, booking herself a plane ticket to Tokyo. Hinds swam during both prelims and finals for the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay at the Games. In the former, she posted a 53.28 anchor split, which was the fastest split on the American women’s squad.
In the final Hinds followed Erika Brown (54.02) and Abbey Weitzeil (52.68) with a 53.15 split of her own. Simone Manuel closed out the relay with a 52.96 to give the Americans a third-place finish of 3:32.81.
Since she made the move to Georgia, Hinds has also raced professionally for the Cali Condors in the International Swimming League, contributing to her team’s league win in 2020.
While she found great success as a pro swimmer in Georgia, Hinds has now made the move back to Florida to train at her alma mater. Hinds landed on the podium at NCAA Championships a number of times including when she earned 100 freestyle bronze in both 2013 and 2015. She also won the SEC 100 freestyle title in 2015 and 2016.
Hinds is the second US Olympian to join the Florida pro group since the Tokyo Games as long-time Stanford swimmer and distance swimming legend Katie Ledecky joined the squad in the fall. Hinds will become the 5th Olympic medalist at Florida, joining current NCAA swimmers Kieran Smith (Olympic bronze in the 400 freestyle) and Bobby Finke (Olympic gold in the 800 and 1500 freestyles), and Caeleb Dressel (Olympic gold in the 50/100 freestyle, 100 butterfly, 4×100 freestyle, and 4×100 medley).
During her time at Georgia, Hinds and fellow Olympian Olivia Smoliga became good friends and training partners and both raced for the Cali Condors. Smoliga finished 3rd in the 100 freestyle at Olympic Trials and swam with Hinds in the Olympic prelim. Since the Games, Smoliga has also switched training bases, making the move to Arizona State this past fall.
Others who have announced departures from the Georgia crew since the Olympic Games include Melanie Margalis and Nic Fink, both of whom are now training in nearby Atlanta.