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Golden Girl: Natalie Coughlin Hall ’00

Before going on to be one of the most decorated Olympic athletes of all-time, Natalie broke two national high school records and was the first swimmer to qualify for the Summer National in all 14 events.
by Carondelet Athletics

Natalie Coughlin Hall is arguably the most decorated athlete to graduate from Carondelet High School. As a 12-time Olympic medalist, Natalie is tied for the most Olympic medals won by a female swimmer in Olympics history. A three-time Olympic gold medalist, Natalie accumulated 60 medals in her 13-year international swimming career.

A native of Vallejo, Calif., Natalie was born to be a swimmer. She started swimming at her local YMCA at 10 months old and she was setting national records by the time she was 16. At 14 years old, and just a freshman in high school, she became the first swimmer to qualify for the Summer Nationals in all 14 events. Two years later, she set national high school records in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard backstroke.

At Carondelet, Natalie helped the Cougars win North Coast Section Swimming Championships in 1998 and 2000. To this day, Natalie still holds the NCS girls’ swimming record in the 100-yard backstroke, with a time of 52.86 at the 1999 NCS Championships.

Natalie transitioned to the University of California, Berkeley, and her accomplishments continued to grow. As a three-year member of the Golden Bears swim team, she won 11 individual NCAA National Championships, and a 12th as a member of a Cal relay team. Natalie was named the NCAA Swimmer of the Year three times, was a two-time recipient of the Honda Sports Award for Swimming and Diving, and was named the 2002-03 Sports Illustrated College Female Athlete of the Year.

In the first of her three Olympic Games, Natalie came home with five medals, (2 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze) at the 2004 Athens Summer Games. As an individual she won a gold medal in the 100-meter backstroke, then helped the 4x200-meter relay team win gold, with a world record-setting time of 7:53.42. Four years later, Natalie returned from the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games with six more medals, becoming the first American female athlete to win six medals in one Olympic games. Her only gold medal from Beijing came on the 100-meter backstroke, becoming the first woman to repeat the gold medal position in that event. In her final Olympics in 2012 in London, Natalie collected her record-tying 12th medal as part of the USA’s 4x100-meter freestyle bronze medal winning team.

In addition to her outstanding Olympic resume, Natalie also excelled in World Championships. She earned 20 medals (8 gold, 7 silver and 5 bronze) in World Championship long course events, while collecting eight medals (2 gold, 5 silver, and 1 bronze) in World Championship short course events. She rounded out her international medal resume with 20 (12 gold, 6 silver, and 2 bronze) in the Pan-Pacific Championships and Pan-American Games.

Her international swimming career began in 2001, when she won three medals at the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan. When Natalie retired from international competition after the 2014 World Championships in Doha, Qatar, she competed in 14 international competitions, collecting 60 medals, including 25 gold, 22 silver and 13 bronze.

Natalie has also made a name for herself outside of the pool. One of her favorite hobbies is cooking, and she’s appeared as a judge on Iron Chef America and as a contestant on an episode of Chopped. Additionally, she was a contestant on season nine of Dancing with the Stars. As a Zero Hunger Ambassador for World Food Program USA, Natalie is on a mission to fight global hunger. She also actively supports the nonprofit organizations Right to Play, Edible Schoolyard and DAM-Cancer Foundation.

Natalie, who is married to Ethan Hall, just completed the manuscript for her upcoming cookbook, Cook to Thrive, which includes recipes she prepared while training for the Olympics, as well as many of her family’s signature Filipino recipes. Natalie is also a newly minted vintner, co-founding Gaderian Wines with her friend and winemaker Shaina Harding. The small boutique label out of Saint Helena, Calif., will produce Pinot Noir and Chenin Blanc.

At the new Carondelet Athletics Complex, the swimming pool was named the Natalie Coughlin Aquatic Center and dedicated on February 22, 2018.


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