Cal legend Natalie Coughlin to be inducted into the United States Olympic and Paralympic Hall of Fame
The "Golden Girl" of Cal Women's Swimming has won 12 Olympic medals
Earlier this week, USA Olympics released its list of 2022 inductees. In this splendid class is Cal Women’s Swimming legend, Natalie Coughlin.
From the official Team USA press release:
Natalie Coughlin (swimming – 2004, 2008, 2012): In three Olympic Games, Natalie Coughlin competed in 12 events and won 12 medals, and became the first U.S. female athlete to win six medals at a single Games. She is tied for the most Olympic medals for a U.S. female athlete.
Coughlin is easily in the elite class of Olympians. In three Olympic games, she has managed to medal in all 12 events participated, earning Three Golds, Four Silvers, and Five Bronze medals. She is the first American woman to win 6 medals at an Olympic, achieving that feat at the Beijing 2008 Games.
Coughlin’s 12 total medals are tied for 10th overall, 4th among female Olympians, in Olympic history current (after the 2022 Beijing Winter Games).
Before her outstanding Olympics career, Natalie Coughlin first reigned over college swimming. The Bay Area native (born in Vallejo and raised in Concord) earned her psychology degree in 2005. Back when Cal Women’s Swimming did not have the depth to compete for team national titles, Coughlin dominated her events to earn 11 NCAA individual titles - 4 in 100y Back, 4 in 100y Fly, and 3 in 200y Back.
She was inducted into the Pac-12 Hall of Honor in 2019.
Coughlin, who starred for the Golden Bears from 2001-04, was an 11-time NCAA individual champion, winning the 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard butterfly four times and the 200 back three times. A three-time NCAA Swimmer of the Year and Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year (2001-03), Coughlin was a four-time team MVP who was undefeated in dual meets during her career, posting a 61-0 record in individual races. She was named to the Pac-10 All-Academic team on three occasions, was a second-team Academic All-American as a junior and a CSAA Scholar All-American as a senior.
The United States Olympic Hall of Fame Class of 2022 is a particularly impressive bunch with swimmer Michael Phelps (28 total medals including 23 Golds are both No.1 in Olympic history), figure skater and UCLA alum Michelle Kwan, soccer superstar Mia Hamm, skiing superstar Lindsey Vonn, tennis legend Billie Jean King as “special contributor”, and the late women’s basketball head coach Pat Summit.
Also inducted are Trischa Zorn-Hudson (Para swimming), the 1976 Women’s 4x100 Freestyle Relay Swimming Team, the 2002 Paralympic Sled Hockey Team, Gretchen Fraser (alpine skiing), and Roger Kingdom (track and field). The latter two were considered “legend” inductees.
This will be the 17th class inducted into the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame, bringing the total to 168 inductees (individuals and teams). The first class was inducted in 1983 and the most recent class was inducted in 2019. Find the entire list of Hall of Fame inductees here.
The last individual Cal Bear to be inducted was another women’s swimmer in Mary T. Meagher for the Class of 2009 (this Hall of Fame has since switched to a class every 4 years). Another “Calympian” legend, Matt Biondi was in the Class of 2004.
The Class of 2022 will be honored and inducted in a ceremony held Friday, June 24, at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Outside of the pool, Coughlin had also competed on TV shows such as Dancing with the Stars (Season 9 in 2009) and Chopped - sports stars episode in 2013.
After retiring from competitive swimming relatively recently (she competed at the US Olympic Trials in 2016 but not in 2021), Coughlin is now the co-founder of a wine company. She is also a mother to two young children.
Coughlin spoke with The Big C Society, essentially the alumni network of all Cal student-athletes, about her experiences. The audio of that full talk is available in the link of the following Tweet.
Congratulations to Natalie Coughlin on this very well-deserved honor!
Congrats Natalie! You are a true golden bear. Her accomplishments are a testament to Teri McKeever. Teri's going through a lot right now, but this is one of the bright spots in her coaching career. Yeah, there's a lot of "bath water" that's been exposed, but there are "babies too." Just want to remember not just Natalie but Coach McKeever's legacy. They both did a lot of Cal.
Well-deserved honor. Took me a moment to realize that it's a combined hall of fame and not that she had a medical condition.