Natalie Coughlin – American International Swimmer & Twelve-time Olymipic Medalist

By Keen Hung Lee

In 2002, Natalie Coughlin at age 19, became the first woman ever to swim the 100-meter backstroke in less than a minute.

Coughlin did her magic once again at the 2008 Summer Olympics by becoming the first U.S. female athlete in modern Olympic history to win six medals in one Olympiad and the first woman ever to win a 100-meter backstroke gold in two consecutive Olympics.

Coughlin has won forty-eight medals in international competition, twenty-one gold, seventeen silver, and ten bronze throughout the Olympics, the World, and the Pan Pacific Championships. As a result of Coughlin’s success, she received the American Swimmer of the Year Award three times and the World Swimmer of the Year Award.

Coughlin was born on August 23, 1982 in Vallejo, California. She is of Irish and one quarter Filipino heritage. At months old, Coughlin first began swimming at the local YMCA. She attended Carondelet High School in Concord, California where she became the first swimmer to qualify for the Summer National in all fourteen events. Coughlin broke two individual national high school records in the 200-yard individual medley (1:58.45) and the 100-yard backstroke (52.86).

At the 2012 United States Olympic Trials, Coughlin competed with a younger generation of American swimmers. In the finals of the 100-meter backstroke, Coughlin finished third behind Missy Franklin and Rachel Bootsma, and finished seventh in the 100-meter butterfly. Coughlin finished sixth while competing in the 100-meter freestyle, allowing her to compete as a member of the U.S. women’s team in the preliminaries of the 4×100-meter freestyle relay. While she swam in the qualifying round, she did not swim in the 4×100-meter final. As a member of the 2012 United States Olympic team, Coughlin won a bronze medal in the 4×100 meter freestyle event. This was Coughlin’s twelfth Olympic medal, which ties the record previously set by American swimmers, Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres, for the most career Olympic medals won by a female U.S. athlete.

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