USA Notes: Natalie Coughlin Stalking Lucky Medal No. 13; Over-30 Club Ready To Roll

Natalie Coughlin by Patrick B. Kraemer

There are storylines aplenty as the United States Olympic Trials in Omaha approach, including Natalie Coughlin’s search for a record-breaking 13th medal.

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There are storylines aplenty as the United States Olympic Trials in Omaha approach, including Natalie Coughlin’s search for a record-breaking 13th medal.



If I were Coughlin, I would have focused training on 100 back and free. 100 back for individual and 100 free for relay alternate. Forget about 50 free. Even if she focuses training 100% on 50 free she’s not going to qualify and the chance for medal is extremely slim.

As for Andrew Seliskar, I’m not familiar at all with his LCM swims. He’s quite lucky that his strongest event 200 fly, apart from Phelps, is relatively weak. So there’s a chance in that.


Interesting start lists for Santa Clara next week, both Sun Yang and Efimova are on the start lists, along with the bulk of Australia’s Olympic team


Coughlin has always been a class act, both in performance and the way she has conducted herself, and respect for these qualities transcend national boundaries/loyalties.

Therefore, I would be incredibly happy to see her collect another Olympic medal. One suspects it will be a relay medal (most likely 4×100 or 4xMED) rather than individual. The US spots for the W100back look very open and her time from Pan Ams does place her very much in that picture although I think the Rio medals will be out of her territory.


Natalie is racing Aussie’s Seebohm, Wilson and Atherton in Santa Clara next week, should be a good indication of where she is at before US trials.

Personal Best

Would be fantastic to have Coughlin on the US team once more.
She could qualify easily for the 4×100 relay, but that’s based on her form last year.
She could have upped it a notch this year and earn a spot in the 100 back too.
Can’t write her off at all!


PB, she certainly should not be written off …. and I don’t beleive anyone here is or should.

The US 100free situation is essentially that of a glut of swimmers at 53mid-high and Coughlin is right in the midst of those. Even should she not swim top 6 at US Trials; she may well be co-opted for this relay should she qualify in the 100back.

When it comes to individual medal hopes; the most realistic assessment would be “not impossible but longer odds”. However, both US W4X100 & W4XMED have to be seen as strong medal contenders and if she’s part of either then she’s good odds to leave Rio with some “coin”. Very few swimfans around the world would begrudge her that.

Bad Anon

Coughlin is such a legendary figure. Im certain if her preparation is similar to pan pacs and she can at least match her best times from 2015 she’ll qualify for Rio. She could also be an alternate on the 800free relay ; I’m sure she can swim 1.57 tapered… I agree with aswimfan that 50free isn’t going to bring her a medal. even if she were to qualify 50free individual she’ll barely scrape into that Olympic final; if at all. 24.5 to final, 24.1 to medal ~ conservative estimates. Coughlin hasn’t been that fast


No. Coughlin is not going to swim 1:57 tapered.
And no she is not going to swim 200 free at all in the trials.

Even the 4×100 free relay alternate is going to be tough. IMHO, 100 back provides better chance. She was fastest American in 100 back by quite a margin last year. And in the past 4 years she’s been 2nd fastest American in 100 back behind Missy. Her incredible underwater gives her more advantage in 100 back than in 100 free.
In 100 free, there’s Missy, Ledecky, Manuel, Weitzeil, Vollmer, all of whom have faster 100 free in the past year than she does.

Bad Anon

Theoretically speaking Aswimfan; once she makes the team say in the 100back; she becomes eligible to swim all relays as an alternate; final decision belonging to coaches…. But I’d concede at 33 the 200 is a bit of a stretch….


Bad Anon, I got you the first time.
AFAIK, the last time Nathalie swam 200 free was in 4×200 final in Beijing, where she split 1:57 third leg wearing LZR.

Hoping Coughlin to swim 1:57 is like hoping Phelps to swim 3:46 in 400 free just because he did it once or twice 10 years ago.


In 100 free in addition to the more established names I mentioned above, I expect these swimmers to swim their PB in Omaha:
Lia Neal, Kelsi Worrell, Olivia Smoliga, Amy Bilquist, Margo Geer, Allison Schmitt.

This would make the competition for that relay alternate position very tough indeed.


With her amazing start and underwater, coughlin is a fantastic relay swimmer. I agree with CW, even if she is not top 6 in 100 free, as long as she qualifies in another event, USA will use her at least in the 4x1free prelims.


If she doesn’t finish top 6 in the 100 free at trials there’s a fair chance Natalie WILL NOT swim in the prelims of the sprint relay even she makes the team in the 100 back. Too many chickens for a downsized coop. The new relay only swimmer participation requirement may throw a wrench (spanner for Craig and others outside N. America) in the works. The only way it could come off is if many of those other relay swimmers qualify in other events, obviously Ledecky, Vollmer, Worrell, Schmitt, etc have solid opportunities to do that. But many other potential top 6 finishers are far from a sure thing to qualify in an individual event. Even then the coaches would still have to make a potentially contentious decision.

I don’t like the relay only requirement rule. Not so much for the intent, which has it’s good and bad points, but for the method. It seems like a poorly conceived rule. What happens if a relay only swimmer is injured and cannot compete? Do they disqualify the whole relay? Or do they excuse the injured swimmer from the rule encouraging teams to flout said rule with phantom injuries? A better idea may have been a more straightforward rule. Just limit the number of relay only swimmers per gender, per team. The previous rule allowed for up to 8 total relay only swimmers. If they limited that to 6 you reduce the number of participants as desired but still provide teams room to adjust their relay pools to their strengths. Potentially, deep teams like the US and Australia could still bring the top 6 in each freestyle relay if enough of them qualified in other individual events or finished top 6 in both the 100 and 200 (ie McKeon).



I like your idea about limiting the total number of relay only swimmers of 6. That would be actually fair without creating additional problems and still achieving the objective of limiting/reducing the total number of swimmers.

As for the USA w4x100 free relay only swimmers, I can’t foresee more than one. Let’s say 1-2 are Ledecky and Manuel. 3-4 are Weitzeil and Franklin (I can see Weitzeil qualifies through 50 free and Franklin backstroke). 5-6 let’s say Vollmer and Coughlin (Vollmer through 100 fly and Coughlin may be the only relay swimmer if she doesn’t qualify through 100 back).


Almost all about American swimming on the women side is more or less clear. There will be a competition for the place in Olympic team practically at any discipline. We know names, we know current form we have some estimates that worth to be used for betting. Business as usual. But there three big question marks that won’t be answered, I see, until trials. That is Franklin, Ledecky and McLaughlin.
What are Franklin’s thoughts about freestyle? She is currently #87 at 50, #59 at 100 and #21 at 200. Is a great surprise awaits for us in a month. Will she emerge from the hide as bright as she was in Barcelona or the sad predictions will finally materialise?
What was that shocking 53.75 shown by Ledecky in January and some following hints that she is up to something much more significant in this area. How real this sudden leap into world class sprinting can be?
Katie McLaughlin – the rising hope of a strong reliable performer in a American team after her impressive success in Kazan. Where is she now?


Katie McLaughlin was out injured for a few months Yozhik and has only recently returned. It will be asking a lot to expect her to perform to her best at the upcoming trials. I would say she is an outside bet to qualify.


Too bad and too sad, Ger if it is what will happen and she will miss the Olympic season. I still hope that she may make 800 relay.

kevin roose

Generally speaking most of the media talk on American aspirations centres around the “older” swimmers .Is this a concern for team America or will we see young guns come thru at the trials ?


Missy, Ledecky, Murphy etc are younger than Seebohm, Campbell sisters and Larkin.

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