London’s Calling: Jimmy Feigen and Natalie Coughlin

PHOENIX, Arizona, July 10. WHAT do one of the youngest Team USA Olympic male swimmers and the first female Olympic athlete to win six medals in one Olympic Games have in common? A number of things, actually.

Both will be competing on the 4×100 freestyle relay in London. Both have the relay as their only Olympic event in London. Both set National High School Records in two individual events. Oh, and both just happened to have won Swimming World Magazine’s High School athletes of the year.

Although I should mention that honor was bestowed a decade apart:

Left: Natalie Coughlin, 1998 Female HS Swimmer of the Year
Right: Jimmy Feigen, 2008 Male HS Swimmer of the Year

Jimmy Feigen:

22-year-old Jimmy Feigen, born September 26, 1989, in Hilo, Hawaii is set to represent Team USA at the London Olympics.

Feigen was a 2008 graduate from Winston Churchill High School in San Antonio, Texas. As a member of the Churchill Chargers, under coach Al Marks, Feigen set High School National records in the 100 (43. 05) and 50 free (19.49).

These accomplishments earned him Swimming World Magazine’s 2008 High School Male Swimmer of the Year.

“As far as scholastic sprinting goes, the argument might start and stop with one name: Jimmy Feigen,” article writer John Lohn comments.

Coming from a stellar High School career, Feigen went on to attend the University of Texas at Austin under coach Eddie Reese from 2008 to 2012.

In his collegiate career, Feigen was a 24 time All-American and three-time 2012 NCAA Champion in the 50, 100 and 4×100 freestyle relay. At the 2011 World University Games, he won two gold medals in 100 freestyle and 4×100 freestyle relay.

In Omaha, Feigen placed fifth at trials in the 100 freestyle (48.84), seven-tenths behind Nathan Adrian’s winning time of 48.10. This place earned him a ticket to London on the men’s 400 freestyle relay, marking Feigen’s first Olympic appearance.

This is no small feat, considering six of the eight swimmers in the final heat of the 100 were already Olympic gold medalists. Going in to the finals, Feigen was ceded second behind Nathan Adrian.

“That’s my best, I can’t complain. It went exactly as I thought it was going to go… extremely painful from the get-go,” Feigen told Swimming World. “Let’s see if I can hold that spot going into tomorrow night, or move up one.

Even though Feigen didn’t snag an Olympic Trials victory, he did make the team.

When asked to express his emotions about heading to London, a jubilant, but apparently exhausted Feigen told Swimming World:

“Elation. I can’t even fathom it right now, all I can feel is the pain in my legs.” Then, switching into technical mode, added, “I probably should have taken a couple more breaths, but we have London to fix that.”

Due to NBC rights holder restrictions, the following video interview is only viewable until 7/27/2012:

Thanks to Social media, we have word that Feigen will be rooming with Ricky Berens in Knoxville for Team USA’s training camp.

This information comes from Ricky Berens (@RickyBerens) Tweeting “Got to Knoxville safe and sound. Looks like my roommate for the next couple of weeks is going to be my Texas teammate @JimmyFeigen”

Natalie Coughlin:

29-year-old Natalie Coughlin, born August 23, 1982, in Vallejo, California is a seasoned Olympic veteran. However, going into her third Olympics, Coughlin’s Olympic role has changed. The most shocking change is that she won’t be representing Team USA in any individual events.

“I have just a relay on the first day, and then I’m done and there to support my teammates,” Coughlin told reporters after a disappointing trials run in Omaha.

Coughlin opted to add the 100 butterfly to her trials schedule for the first time, after a change in the normal trials events order placed the butterfly before the 100 backstroke. Whether or not this choice affected Coughlin’s trials outcome is up for speculation.

After failing to qualify for the Olympics in either the 100 butterfly or the 100 backstroke, Coughlin told reporters:

“I’m not as disappointed as everyone expects me to be. You can’t cry over what you can’t control.”

Due to NBC rights holder restrictions, the following video interview is only viewable until 7/27/2012:

In 1998, at age 15, Coughlin became the first swimmer to qualify for Summer Nationals in all 14 events.

She followed this with an incredible high school career, in which she broke national high school records in the 200 IM (1:58.45) and 100 backstroke (52.86).

Coughlin graduated from UC Berkeley in 2005, after competing in the 2004 Athens Olympics. She is an 11-time Olympic medalist, so far earning three Gold, four silver, and four bronze.

In Beijing 2008, she became the first modern female Olympic athlete to win six medals in one Olympics. Adding to this accomplishment, she was the first woman to win the 100 backstroke in two consecutive Olympics. Not to mentions she was the first woman to swim the 100 meter backstroke in under a minute.

After the 100 butterfly, her first race at trials in Omaha, Coughlin backed up her decision to swim the race by saying, “It’s just good to have the opportunity to place yourself on the team in as many events as possible. My goal is to earn my ticket to London this week.”

As the week continued on, Coughlin eventually managed to earn her ticket, by placing sixth in the 100 freestyle finals. This placing puts her as a relay alternate in the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay.

“First or sixth, it doesn’t really matter, I’m really just excited to earn my ticket to London,” said Coughlin.

Written and posted by Shoshanna Rutemiller, a former collegiate swimmer who quickly learned she is better at writing about swimming than racing it.

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