London Olympics: Could Natalie Coughlin swim for record medal?

Natalie Coughlin is all smiles after competing in a preliminary heat on Saturday.
(Nhat V. Meyer / MCT)

LONDON — Natalie Coughlin could swim one more time in the Olympics, giving her the chance to win more medals than any female swimmer in U.S. history.

Coughlin is under consideration to swim in the 400-meter medley relay, U.S. women’s coach Teri McKeever said Tuesday. “We haven’t made any decisions yet,” he added.

Coughlin did not qualify to swim in any individual events. She won her 12th medal last Saturday, as part of the U.S. 400-meter freestyle relay team, tying Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres for the most medals by a female American swimmer. At that point, Coughlin was not projected to swim in another relay.

McKeever said every U.S. swimmer would be considered for the medley relay. Coughlin could replace Rachel Bootsma in the backstroke leg; Bootsma did not qualify for Monday’s finals in that event.


Coughlin swam the fastest preliminary leg in the 400 free relay.

McKeever, who coached Coughlin at Cal, said the chance for Coughlin to set a medal record would not figure in the U.S. decision.

“Medals are earned,” McKeever said. “So, if it’s in the best interest of the team … We’re going to make a decision that is in the best interest of the team.”

Coughlin told NBC she would welcome the chance to swim again.


“One of the great things about Team USA in swimming is we have so much depth and so much talent so we have options for the medley relays,” she told the “Today” show. “That being said, I’m not trying to force myself on a relay. I’m there, and it’s 100% the coach’s decision.”


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