Catching Up With Natalie Coughlin

By Jason Marsteller

PHOENIX, Arizona, November 5. SHORTLY after she broke her own 100 SCM back world record, as reported here, SwimmingWorldMagazine.com caught up with Natalie Coughlin as she takes time off from competing until the final World Cup stop in Belo Horizonte.

Are you on some special five-year plan? First, you lower your 100 LCM back world record for the first time in five years in Melbourne, then in Singapore you posted the first world record in the World Cup series by dropping your own 100 SCM back standard, five years after first setting it in New York. What is so special about each of these seasons, spanning five years apart?
There's been nothing particularly special about this year or my training this year. I've been working on a lot of things in my swimming over the past several years that are really starting to come together for me this year. Whenever you make big changes in your training, you can't expect results to come right away.

I've had a lot of faith over the years that what I'm doing on a daily basis is going to really help me. I wasn't expecting it to take five years, but I'm happy with the results!

How are you feeling after breaking the 100 SCM back record in Singapore?
I'm obviously very happy with my results. After the World Cup in Durban, I knew that I had a lot of room for improvement in my races. My starts and turns weren't exactly good, and the races themselves felt a little "off." I took the week between Durban and Singapore to really work on those things.

You also keep threatening the 100 IM record. Since this race isn't really done much, what is it about the 100 IM that you enjoy the most?
I love that race! I think they should add it to the long course format with a 10-meter buffer zone in the middle of the pool to change strokes. Wouldn't that be an exciting race to watch? What's not to like in that race? You race all four strokes and the race is super quick. I wish I could do that race every meet.

Do you ever see yourself leaving the Bay Area, or do you think you've found your home?
I've lived here my entire life. I love it here and don't really see myself leaving.

Although this may be a bit premature with the season you are having right now, you have really branched out in your life looking towards your future. What are your future career plans? Also, can you please tell us a little bit about the new product you are endorsing, the H20 Audio Signature Series iSH2.
I'm not really sure what the future holds for me. I don't plan on retiring from swimming any time soon, so hopefully I won't have to worry about my post-swimming future for some time. I have, however, had many opportunities because of my swimming success.

My latest opportunity is my partnership with H20 Audio. The iSH2 is my signature line from H20 Audio. It's an underwater housing (with headphones) for the iPod shuffle. I think it's an amazing product and I can't wait for other swimmers to try it out!

What type of strategy do you plan on using for Beijing? Do you plan on specializing on an event or two, or having more of an all-around meet plan?
I will definitely try to be on all the relays and will try to make the team in more than one event.

You have been in a lot of big time meets throughout your career. Do you handle the pressure of these events differently now than you used to in the past? If so, how so?
Whether I mean to or not, I definitely treat competitions differently because of my past experiences. That's just part of maturing as an athlete. There is obviously a lot of pressure at big meets, but I just try to remind myself how lucky I am to swim as my profession.

What are some of the newcomers on the swimming scene that you admire the most?
There are so many that I could name, but Kate Ziegler and Katie Hoff come to mind. They aren't really newcomers, but they are young. They both are really grounded individuals who have had great seasons over the past couple years. They are both Speedo-sponsored athletes and I love hanging out with them at the catalog shoots.

Now that you have an incredible lead in the World Cup series, any thoughts on finishing out the rest of the schedule to put yourself in line for the $100,000 final prize?
Oh, I wish! I'm going to do my best at Belo Horizonte, but I'm not sure if missing four of the seven meets puts me in good standing for that top prize. Therese Alshammar has been swimming really well and I think she is planning on going to six of the seven meets. It's going to take an extraordinary Brazil meet for me to win. I'm just hoping that I don't have to share the world record pot!

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