Natalie Coughlin Dishes on Motherhood, New Cook Book

Portrait of Natalie Coughlin

For more nearly two decades, Natalie Coughlin was on the go.

Constant training, international travel and big opportunities in the pool led her to one of the most successful swimming careers in history.

Coughlin didn’t have a lot of time for extra things when balancing school, swimming and travel, but was able to relax through her passion of food. When she was traveling, she enjoyed experiencing other cultures through food. When she was at home, cooking became a way to keep that food passion going — and make it her own.

Now a new mom, Coughlin is set to release a cook book called Cook to Thrive: Recipes to Fuel Body and Soul.

The 12-time Olympic medalist spoke about food, motherhood and the cook book in an exclusive Swimming World interview.

“I hope it just is a way to share my love of food with my swim fans. There have been a lot of people that have asked me about doing a cook book. Sharing the fact that you eat healthy and that is very important to fuel yourself. But you can also indulge from time to time and that can fit into a healthy lifestyle. You can balance that and still train for the Olympics. I never wanted to write an autobiography or anything like that, but I saw a cook book as a way so share some of my travel and swimming stories, but make it about food,” Coughlin said. “After 2016, I had time to do it and I shopped it around. I am really excited that this is finally coming out. It is something that I am really, really proud of.”


The book is published by Clarkson Potter and will be released Feb. 26.


Photo Courtesy: Clarkson Potter

But the process began in 2017.

“That whole spring and summer was locking myself in the kitchen in testing recipes and trying things and figuring out what is in there. It was a lot more work than I originally thought, but it was a fun and rewarding process,” she said.

Coughlin has come a long way in her cooking over the years.

“In college, after my freshman year, I moved into an apartment and had to cook for myself. I didn’t really know how to cook. I read every book and took some cooking classes and really experimented. It became a way for me to decompress after training,” she said. “I learned so much. I have been learning more and more and now I can say that I am a really good home cook. Cooking and food just became part of my routine. After a long day, decompressing, but also entertaining for friends.”

She wanted to incorporate food from all over the world.

“Going all over the world and having memorable meals, as a swimmer, sometimes the only way you can experience the real culture is the food because we are competing,” she said.

The book has sections on breakfast, salad and soup, vegetables as well as main dishes and smoothies, juices and sweets. It also gives a list of must-have ingredients to have on hand for all kinds of recipes and occasions.

She definitely has her favorites among the dozens of recipes in the book.

“Bolognese is one of my go-tos. It is more comfort food. That is one of the recipes that my girlfriends will constantly request,” she said. “I made myself a lot of lasagnas with that sauce when I was pregnant so I can freeze them and break them out for a rainy day.”

One recipe is particularly personal to her.

“My grandma’s lumpia,” she said. “That is my food that reminds me the most of my grandma. We had it every get together and that is what I always looked for the most. She still makes it and we request it every gathering.”

Pretty soon, Natalie’s daughter Zennie will be requesting certain recipes. Coughlin became a mother in October, which has been, of course, life-altering, but has allowed Natalie to finally slow down.

“It has been great. I am blessed with a pretty easy, chill baby. She doesn’t sleep during the day, which has its limitations, but she sleeps really well at night,” Natalie said. “Slowing down is hard. That has really been hard on me. I don’t feel like I have changed too much. But I am actually pretty chill with her. She brings out the more chill side of my personality. As the book tour comes up, that is going to be tough. I left her for the first time last weekend and left her for two nights. She had a wonderful time with my husband, but you feel the anxiety of leaving her. I find it hard to do things during the day. I am always going, but it forced me to slow down.”

She is looking forward to the first time she takes Zennie to the pool. But so far, the water has been fun for the newborn.

“It is so fun to watch how much she loves the water. I look forward every evening to her bath time,” Natalie said. “I haven’t been in the pool yet but it is so great to know how much she loves the water.”

For more information on the book and how to order, click here.