PHOENIX, Arizona, August 31. BACK home after competing in her third Olympics, Natalie Coughlin joins today's edition of The Morning Swim Show to talk about her experiences in London, including swimming in a drastically reduced program.
Coughlin talks about her performances at Trials, and why she feels she was not able to have the ideal season leading up to and including the Olympic Trials. She also discusses her potential future endeavors, which could mean a return to the pool and possibly a cookbook. Be sure to visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.
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Tiffany Elias: This is the Morning Swim Show for Friday, August 31st, 2012. I am your host Tiffany Elias. Today in the FINIS Monitor is one of the most decorated female Olympians. Joining us from her home in Lafayette, California is Natalie Coughlin. Hey Natalie welcome back to the show.
Natalie Coughlin: Thanks for having me.
Tiffany: All right so third Olympics, what's life after London like this time around?
Natalie: This time around, it has been pretty good. I really haven't been home. I stayed through closing ceremonies and then you know immediately went to the mountains with my husband and then had a bunch of, you know, events with my friends here in the Bay Area and then it was my birthday last weekend, so all my best friends and we all went to the beach and just had a wonderful beach weekend. So it has been busy, but it has been really good busy.
Tiffany: Yeah, that sounds really enjoyable. I did see some pictures on Twitter of you out doing some fishing.
Tiffany: Have you just been really trying to enjoy yourself? More vacation over media stuff that a lot of people get pulled into?
Natalie: Yeah, I have been doing a lot of media today is– oh my gosh, I am doing just interview after interview. And then I was in L.A. earlier this week and just try to make the most out of my time there, so when I do do the media stuff I am just doing a lot at once and then trying to you know bundle them together as much as possible, so it has made it more manageable and then I get to have you know some downtime and that has been really, really nice.
Tiffany: You have been doing this for so long. Has the media stuff really started to wear on you or are you still just taking in strides?
Natalie: It doesn't wear on me. It is exhausting and especially now with Twitter and Instagram and Facebook. There is — you know you have to check everything and stay up-to-date as much as you can. It is tiring sometimes, but it is part of the job, you know that is my job in addition to swimming and training and competing. That is part of it.
Tiffany: Lots of good way to look at it so let's get into the swimming portion of this. Going back to trials. You are trying to make your third push. See if you could defend that title in 100-backstroke. You fell a little short with the competition being unbelievable this time around. Still made it in the relay, coming out with that bronze medal, what was your take after trials going into London?
Natalie: You know I didn't have a successful trials and honestly I didn't have a really good season in general, and that I think just you know — hindsight's 20/20. I think I just trained a little too hard and didn't focus on recovery nearly as much as I should have, but you know it is what it is. I was very happy to just go to my third Olympics and to be a part of such an amazing team, and it was kind of nice you know not to have the crazy schedule that I had in Beijing and in Athens. I actually got to watch a lot of the events and be really present and get to enjoy each of the sessions.
Tiffany: Would you say that is the biggest difference from all past Olympics is just a relaxed, more “relaxing schedule?”
Natalie: It was very relaxed. You know, I was done the first session and I didn't know if I was done for a few days, but yeah I was done first session of the first day so when the Olympics are 17 days long, I got to watch a lot and enjoy a lot.
Tiffany: Yeah, that makes it a memorable experience. So with that being said the 400 freestyle relay was proved to be one of the toughest for the American ladies. Still walked away with the bronze medal, which gives you your 12 medal count tying you with Dara Torres and Jenny Thompson. Now as we have seen in previous interviews you knew of that record that stands tying for the top number of medals for any American female swimmer. So with that said you are tied with two other ladies. What does that mean moving forward?
Natalie: I don't know if that will affect you know what the future is for me or not, but I am still trying to figure out what I am doing. I am going to explore options outside of the pool, but I you know I am still considering doing the World Cup circuit this year, or you know I love swimming and I have not made a decision to retire or not to retire as of now.
Tiffany: We could probably assume though that your training will continue with Teri McKeever if you do continue to swim?
Natalie: Yeah, I mean I have been at Cal for 12 years and I am very much established in the Bay Area. You know I am born and raised in the Bay Area so I don't see myself going anywhere.
Tiffany: All right, so you just mentioned exploring some other opportunities, can you elaborate on that at all. Do you have any idea what those might entail?
Natalie: I don't know how much I could elaborate. I definitely have thought about a book at some point, like a cookbook, so I want to explore that a little bit more. My husband and I have thought about doing you know a swim school, so we are researching that more and more. You know, I think everyone expected me to want to have babies right away and that is not a case. Don't worry, I am not going to have any babies anytime soon. And yeah, I just want to enjoy my time and we have some traveling coming up which I am really excited about and you know I am going to go to a great white shark dive.
Tiffany: Oh wow.
Natalie: In 2 weeks, which have been a lifelong goal of mine and I found an opening in the schedule at this one place, and you know on a whim my husband and I we're going to go so I am really excited about that.
Tiffany: Yeah, that sounds great. Now did your husband make it out to London with you as well?
Natalie: He did, he did. He was there for the duration of swimming, but you know being a swim coach that is a very, very important time of the year so he had to go back as soon as swimming was over.
Tiffany: Now being that you were still being affiliated with the team, how often were you guys able to see each other? Could you watch the events together or did you have to stay with the U.S.A. Team?
Natalie: We had to stay with the U.S.A. Team you know the honor code is in place so you still are very much a part of the U.S. Team and the schedule and the meetings and everything like that. I was able to sneak away a few times for lunch here and there, but you know I was still you know “working,” so I would do either media obligations in between sessions and then I — you know we have to go to both prelims and final sessions so there really wasn't that much time left in the day, but we kept in touch via Skype.
Tiffany: Yeah so that was one of the tricky things over in London was communication. Did you get a phone while you are over there or were you just, did you have the connection whenever you had internet, because that is what I was doing and it was difficult.
Natalie: Yeah, well I mean it was really nice to have WiFi almost everywhere in the venues, so you could keep in touch that way, but I just bit the bullet and used my phone and I just got the bill and it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be.
Tiffany: Well that is good because those can get ugly.
Natalie: I know. I have learned. I have learned from past mistakes.
Tiffany: All right so being a veteran, how did the venues compared to the previous Olympics?
Natalie: They were amazing. The pool, you know the pool — how much can you really do with the pool? It is 50 meters long and there is a warm up pool and there is locker rooms, things like that, so it was beautiful and it was clean and I thought that the layout works really well, but what was so nice was the village, having high rises made the village much smaller and so there was a lot of walking to do, but it wasn't nearly as far as in Athens or in Beijing and having the tube system in addition to the great you know bus system that we had in the village was really easy. Everything about London was just easy and enjoyable.
Tiffany: It really was. So now the Olympics being over. There has been some talk now moving over Ryan Lochte that he might– he is considering Dancing with the Stars which as we know you were a participant on a few seasons back.
Tiffany: So tell us a little bit about your experience and also can you see Ryan doing something like that or you know– ?
Natalie: I can see Ryan participating in reality TV for sure. He has such a great personality and I think he would love Hollywood. He is– I would encourage anyone to do Dancing with the Stars. I think it is such a great experience that it forces you to get out of your comfort zone and to really expose you know your vulnerabilities to the world, and it is just a great life challenge and I would do it again in a heartbeat and if he gets the opportunity I think he should take it.
Tiffany: Was it more challenging than one of the hardest practices you have ever done in the pool or how does it relate to athletics?
Natalie: It is a different challenge. It is definitely. It is hard on your body. Like it was just hard to be on my feet for so many hours a day in heels and it was hard on my hips and — but it is not like the cardio grueling workout of a swimming workout or weight session. The hardest part of it was just being on camera for endless hours of the day and you know knowing that anything, any look, any phrase, anything could be edited together to create the story for the reality side of the TV show. So that was difficult but that was something that I got used to.
Tiffany: Yeah, well Natalie, thanks for fitting us into your schedule. I know you are busy and definitely enjoy your travelling that is coming up.
Natalie: Thank you. I am really looking forward to it.
Tiffany: And we look forward to hopefully watching you in some more competition as well.
Natalie: Thank you.
Tiffany: All right. Thanks Natalie. Have a great day.
Natalie: Thanks, you too.
Tiffany: All right well that is it for today's Morning Swim Show, make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with all the latest news. I am your host Tiffany Elias. Thanks for watching and have a great weekend.
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