Michael Phelps, Natalie Coughlin Finalists for U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Michael Phelps, Natalie Coughlin Finalists for U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame

Swimmers Michael Phelps and Natalie Coughlin are among the finalists announced Monday for the Class of 2022 of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame.

The swimming duo are among 15 Olympic finalists for the honor, joined by water polo player Brenda Villa. Para swimmers Trischa Zorn-Hudson and Cortney (Jordan) Truitt are on the list of nine Paralympic nominees. Among the Olympic Team nominees is the 1976 women’s swimming 400 freestyle relay, while James “Doc” Counsilman is a finalist for the coach category.

The class of 2022 will be the first for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee since 2019. Fans can vote here through May 16.

“On behalf of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, it is an honor to unveil the finalists for induction into the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame, Class of 2022,” USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said in a press release. “Each finalist has had a profound impact on Team USA, and on the greater Olympic and Paralympic movements. We are proud to honor their work in living out the Olympic and Paralympic ideals, and we look forward to celebrating the Class of 2022.”

Phelps is the most accomplished Olympian in history, with 23 gold and 28 total medals. He swam at five Olympics, from 2000 to 2016. He won six gold medals in Athens in 2004, then went 8-for-8 in golds in 2008 in Beijing. He retired after the 2012 Olympics and returned to win five gold and a silver in Rio in 2016. He’s also a 26-time long-course World Champion.

Coughlin is a 12-time Olympic medalist (three gold, four silver, five bronze). She’s tied with Dara Torres and Jenny Thompson as both the most decorated American female Olympian and the most decorated women’s Olympic swimmer in history. Coughlin won gold in her signature event, the 100 backstroke, at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. She added gold in the 800 free relay in Athens. She swam in three Olympics before retiring in 2015 and is a 2022 inductee to the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Villa is a four-time Olympic medalist in water polo, including gold in London in 2012. She’s won three World Championships with the U.S. and three Pan Am golds. With 31 goals, she’s the all-time leading scorer in Olympic water polo history. She was a 2018 member of the ISHOF and the U.S. Water Polo Hall of Fame. She was also a finalist for the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame in 2019.

Zorn-Hudson is the most successful Paralympian in history, with a staggering 55 medals (41 gold, nine silver, five bronze) in the S12, SB12 and SM12/SM19 categories. She won 12 gold medals at the 1988 Seoul Paralympics, after six at the 1984 Games in New York and seven in Arnhem in 1980. She competed in seven Paralympics, winning a bronze in Athens in 2004 at age 40. After the 2000 Olympics, she held eight world records in her category. Zorn-Hudson was inducted to the Paralympic Hall of Fame in 2012.

Truitt, as Cortney Jordan, swam at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. She won the S7 50 free in Beijing in 2008 to go with two silvers and a bronze at that Games. She added three silvers and a bronze in London in 2012 and in Rio in 2016. She’s a six-time gold medalist at the IPC World Championships.

The 1976 women’s 400 freestyle relay authored one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history. The team of Kim Peyton, Jill Sterkel, Shirley Babashoff and Wendy Boglioli stunned the East German powerhouse, winning in a world record time of 3:44.82. To that point in the Montreal Olympics, the East Germans had won 10 of 11 individual events, six in world records and nine in Olympic records, to go with five silver medals. The East German medley relay had set a world record and beaten the Americans by 6.5 seconds. It was later revealed that the East Germans’ advantage came as a result of state-sponsored systemic doping.

Counsilman was not just an accomplished swim coach but a true innovator in stroke and training technique. A six-time NCAA championship coach (1968-73) at Indiana University, Counsilman coached the backbone of the ascendant American program during those years. He was the head coach of the U.S. Olympic team in 1964 and 1976. Counsilman, who died in 2004 at age 83, was a 1976 inductee to the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame Finalists

  • Olympic: Kristin Armstrong, Cycling; Natalie Coughlin, Swimming; Shani Davis, Speedskating; Cammi Granato, Hockey; Mia Hamm, Soccer; Kayla Harrison, Judo; Michelle Kwan, Figure Skating; Eleanor ‘Elle’ Logan, Rowing; Julia Mancuso, Alpine Skiing; Bode Miller, Alpine Skiing; Michael Phelps, Swimming; John Smith, Wrestling; Dawn Staley, Basketball; Brenda Villa, Water Polo; Lindsey Vonn, Alpine Skiing
  • Paralympic: Steve Cash, Sled Hockey; Muffy Davis, Para Alpine Skiing, Para-cycling; Susan Hagel, Wheelchair Basketball, Para Archery, Para Track and Field; Trischa Zorn-Hudson, Para Swimming; David Kiley, Wheelchair Basketball, Para Track and Field, Para Alpine Skiing; Marla Runyan, Para Track and Field, Olympic Track and Field; Marlon Shirley, Para Track and Field; Andy Soule, Para Nordic Skiing; Cortney (Jordan) Truitt, Para Swimming
  • Olympic Team: 1976 Women’s Swimming 4×100 Freestyle Relay Team; 1996 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team; 2010 Four-Man Bobsled Team
  • Paralympic Team: 2002 U.S. Sled Hockey Team; 2008 U.S. Paralympic Sailing Team
  • Legend: Billy Fiske, Bobsled; Gretchen Fraser, Alpine Skiing; Roger Kingdom, Track and Field; Darrell Pace, Archery; Brad Parks, Wheelchair Tennis; Norbert ‘Norb’ Schemansky, Weightlifting
  • Coach: Bob Beattie, Alpine Skiing; James ‘Doc’ Counsilman, Swimming; Pat Summit, Basketball
  • Special Contributor: Walter Bush; Billie Jean King; David Wallechinsky

Vote for the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame members here