Aug. 16, 2008
Beijing, China - Natalie Coughlin made Olympic history in the pool on Saturday evening, becoming the first American woman ever (in any sport) to medal six times in a single Olympiad after garnering a silver in the women's 4x100-meter medley relay at the National Aquatics Center in Beijing.
The greatest woman's swimmer in Cal history, Coughlin swam the first leg of the medley. Rebecca Soni, Christine Magnuson, and Dara Torres rounded out the quartet who posted an American record time of 3:53.30.
Coughlin has now attained 11 career Olympic medals, one shy of former U.S. star Jenny Thompson and Torres, who are tied for the record for most Olympic women's swimming medals with 12. Coughlin did however tie former Cal men's swimmer Matt Biondi with the most Olympic medals by any Cal athlete.
Mentored by Cal head coach and U.S. Olympic assistant coach, Teri McKeever - one of the most influential minds in the sport, Coughlin won 12 NCAA titles with the Golden Bears (the second-most career titles for a women's swimmer in NCAA history). She was a three-time NCAA and Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year. Her success only grew more after her collegiate tenure. At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Coughlin became the third American woman to win five medals at one Olympics (the others are Mary Lou Retton and Shannon Miller). She took gold in the 100-meter backstroke and the 800 freestyle relay, breaking the world record in that event. Coughlin also won silver medals in the 400 free relay and the 400 medley relay, and a bronze in the 100 free. At the 2008 Olympic Trials, Coughlin lowered her then world record (since broken) in the 100 back to 58.97. In addition, she finished second in both the 100 free (53.83) and 200 individual medley (2:10.32).
Coughlin medals in Beijing
Bronze Women's 200m Individual Medley (2:10.34) Bronze Women's 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay (7:46.33) Silver Women's 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay (3:34.33) Bronze Women's 100m Freestyle (53.39) Gold Women's 100m Backstroke (58.96) Silver Women's 4 x 100m Medley Relay (3:53.30)