Natalie Coughlin has proven once again that strong is sexy. In fact, really, really sexy. The 12-time Olympic medalist made quite the splash when she posed in the water for ESPN’s “Body Issue.”

But, did you know that before she bared all for ESPN The Magazine, Natalie posed for SI Swimsuit in 2012 in some carefully applied body paint, which took 11 hours to complete? 

“It feels like something in between a swimsuit—and being naked,” Natalie said of the experience with our annual glossy.

In her interview with ESPN, the 32-year-old stunner—yes, you read that number right—discussed the pressures in professional swimming, surrounding body issues that get blown-up. Natalie even admitted to feeling self-conscious about her arms because, as she told the magazine, “it’s really hard to find a dress that’s a size 10 in the lats but a size 4 in the waist.” Quite frankly, we think she looks beautiful in anything (or nothing at all).

The powerful swimmer still trains at her alma mater UC Berkeley, but she does it with the men’s team. (She probably beats them, too!) The California babe stays strong and on top of her game by lifting four times a week and can even bench 70-pound dumbbells in each hand. You go, girl!

Coughlin said to ESPN that she currently has no plans to stop swimming and that, as she told them after the 2012 Olympics when she was approaching 30 and had been married for a couple of years, “everyone assumed I would retire, have babies and disappear”—something her male teammates would never even have to consider. And while we’re sure she’d make a great mom, we’re not ready for her to disappear and take her gorgeous self away from us any time soon.

To her, we say: “Just keep swimming!”

BONUS: See some of Natalie's best moments from SI Swimsuit 2012!