Where Are They Now? Four Retired Female Swimmers Experiencing a New Chapter

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Sydney Mason, Swimming World College Intern.

Many Swimming World readers grew up idolizing the great swimmers of the Athens, Beijing and London Olympic Games. However, a large number of these athletes have retired and are out of the spotlight.

What happens to them after retirement? Do they hit the swim clinic circuit? Do they start a career in an unrelated field? Or do they simply enjoy retirement?

Many retired professional swimmers are currently participating in their communities in unique ways. Let’s take a look at how these four retired female swimmers are experiencing a new chapter of life.

1. Natalie Coughlin


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Hailed as arguably the best female backstroker in the history of the sport, Natalie Coughlin is a former world record holder and 12-time Olympic medalist. She even has a book written about her professional career: Golden Girl by Michael Silver.

Although she has not officially retired, she no longer swims on the big professional stage.  However, she continues to involve herself in the sport in various capacities, such as serving as a USA Swim Squad captain for the 2018 Pro Swim Series. In an effort to make swimming a more spectator-friendly “fantasy” sport, the US National team has been drafted into four squads for some friendly competition among themselves. Coughlin loves lending her years of leadership as a mentor and coach to these developing swimmers!

In addition to her involvement in the swimming world, Coughlin is making a name for herself in the food and wine industry. She is currently writing her first cookbook while co-creating a wine named Gaderian Wines. The cookbook will be released in the spring of 2019.

She is also expecting her first child with husband, Ethan Hall.

2. Rebecca Soni


Photo Courtesy: Arena

Rebecca Soni has a laundry list of accomplishments, a few of which include the following: six-time Olympic medalist, world record holder in the 100 meter breaststroke, and Swimming World’s Swimmer of the Year in 2010 and 2011. Soni has also kept busy after announcing her retirement in 2014.

She and Caroline Burckle (2008 Olympian and teammate), are cofounders of RISE Athletes. RISE Athletes is a mentoring program in which young athletes can have weekly video meetings with Olympic stars. The purpose behind the program is to build up athletes at any level to take the next step in accomplishing their goals.

3. Kaitlin Sandeno

Kaitlin Sandeno by Matthew Miller2

Photo Courtesy: Matthew Miller

Kaitlin Sandeno is a former world record holder, gold medalist, and the anchor leg of the historic women’s 4×200 freestyle relay in Athens, Greece (the one that broke a 17 year record). She announced her retirement six years ago after failing to make the 2008 Olympic team.

She, like many retired Olympians, is a motivational speaker and spokesperson. She was a captain of a Swim Squad during the 2018 Pro Swim Series, and she will be hosting the 2018 Warrior Games presented by The Department of Defense.

In addition to these “gigs,” Sandino works in the fashion industry: both as a brand ambassador for several fitness lifestyle brands as well as in a boutique.

She posted on her Instagram account, “I came across ‘WE ARE HIRING’ from one of my favorite lifestyle fitness boutiques in my neighborhood. The thought excited me and made me think of a recent article I read by Olympic skater Sasha Cohen about life after the Olympics. One quote in particular stood out: ‘Do everything you couldn’t do when you were training.'”

4. Ariana Kukors

Photo Courtesy: The Seattle Times

Ariana Kukors, a former world record holder in the 200m IM, retired in 2013 after competing in London’s 2012 Olympic Games. She has kept in touch with the swimming world through various commentary roles.

She has combined her passion for physical activity and performance psychology through various roles. Kukors worked as the Director of Health Inspiration for LifeWise Health Plan of Washington in addition to consulting with high performance psychologists Pete Carroll and Michael Gervais. She also writes for Actively Northwest, a health publication targeted toward individuals living in the Pacific Northwest portion of the U.S.

Currently, she travels as the founder and CEO of Team Kukors, conducting inspirational and corporate speaking engagements, emotional intelligence clinics (Dream Clinics), and health and wellness presentations.

As seen in the lives of these four swimming legends, there isn’t a cookie cutter post-professional swimmer life. They all use their different strengths, talents, and insights to pursue other dreams on dry land and encourage others to go after their goals!

Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Bett Williams
5 years ago

My childhood hero was Janet Evans, was hoping to see her here! Good article, nonetheless.

5 years ago
Reply to  Bett Williams

While Janet did attempt a comeback for the London Olympics, she failed to make the cut in her events at trials and, therefore, doesn’t meet the inclusion criteria of the article.

Wendy Colonnese Theders

Kaitlin Sandeno Hogan

Kaitlin Sandeno Hogan
5 years ago

Oh wow! Thanks for showing me! ☺️

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x