Calympians At London 2012: Natalie Coughlin, USA Swimming

Jun 26, 2012; Omaha, NE, USA; Natalie Coughlin smiles after competing in the preliminaries of the 100m backstroke in the 2012 U.S. Olympic swimming team trials at CenturyLink Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Ryerson-US PRESSWIRE

Is Natalie Coughlin awesome or what? It's the "Local boy makes good," except she's not a boy and she did more than just "makes good." Just check this out:

Natalie Anne Coughlin (born August 23, 1982) is an American international swimmer and eleven-time Olympic medalist. At the 2008 Summer Olympics, Coughlin became the first American female athlete in modern Olympic history to win six medals in one Olympics, the first woman ever to win a 100-meter backstroke gold in two consecutive Olympics[1], and is the first woman to ever swim the 100-meter backstroke in under one minute.

Coughlin's success has earned her the World Swimmer of the Year Award one time and American Swimmer of the Year Award three times. She has won a total of forty-eight medals in major international competition, twenty-one gold, seventeen silver, and ten bronze spanning the Olympics, the World, and the Pan Pacific Championships. She is a member of the 2012 United States Olympic team and will compete in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay event at the 2012 Summer Olympics inLondon.

And that doesn't even talk about her dancing! There's a lot of firsts in there, a lot of history made by this East Bay native. The reality is that she is one of the greatest swimmers of all time. This success did not come by accident as she has worked beyond hard to accomplish all of her goals. Join me after the jump to learn more about this fine Golden Bear.

This article from Coughlins' time at Cal shows her harsh training schedule:

A day in the life of Natalie Coughlin is a long day.

Related Coughlin: "The team is in the water at 5:45 (a.m.) and we work out for two hours. Then, we work out again for at least three hours in the afternoon — swimming, running, yoga, weights. There are not many sports where you are doing two practices a day. And we have no off-season in this sport.

"There are always meets, never a time of year when you can just do conditioning. One whole week without training is huge; for me, it sets me way back. That's why so many kids dropout, why so many swimmers burnout. You can't back off from the 30 hours of week this takes. Back off and you will be left in the wake."

For all of her accolades to date, she could have even more. Right before the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia Coughlin hurt her shoulder and was not able to compete. So, she could be competing in her fourth Olympic games here in London 2012. In London 2012, she will be competing in the 400 freestyle relay. This was not exactly how she anticipated London 2012, but she'll take it:

With a time of 54.44 and a sixth-place finish, two-time Olympian Natalie Coughlin earned a spot on Team USA in the 100m freestyle. Jessica Hardy won the race with a 53.96, followed by Missy Franklin at 54.15. The top six swimmers in the race are headed to London to represent the U.S. in the 4x100 relay.

"This isn't exactly how I expected this meet to turn out for me, but I couldn't be happier. I'm going to my third Olympic games and I'll do my best to represent my country," Coughlin said after the race to NBC.

Barely making the team is not the position Coughlin expected to be in. After winning gold in the 100m backstroke in Athens and Beijing, Coughlin was a favorite to represent the U.S. again in her signature stroke. She missed qualifying both the 100m backstroke and 100m butterfly, and made Team USA by the skin of her teeth.

Now, she will have a chance to add a 4x100 free medal to her hardware chest, which includes three golds, four silvers and four bronze medals.

Plus, she's much fancier than all of us combined:

Superstar athlete. Foodie. Local kid. What more do you need to love this Golden Bear? Oh wait, did somebody say SALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLSA:

Good luck in London, Natalie. May you do as well as you did in Athens and Beijing and as well as you would have done in Sydney. GO BEARS!

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