Cal Swimming: Natalie Coughlin Inducted into Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame

Natalie Cough in 2016Photo by Kevin Jairaj, USA Today

Jeff Faraudo

Cal swim great and 12-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin is part of the impressive five-person 2020 class entering the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame.

Coughlin, who will be joined in the 41st BASHOF class by Rickey Henderson and Bruce Bochy, is the 18th Cal athlete honored by the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame. Jason Kidd was part of the 2019 class, and past inductees include swimmers Matt Biondi, Ann Curtis Cuneo and Mary T. Meagher Plant.

She won 11 individual NCAA titles in three seasons (2001-03) with the Golden Bears and was the NCAA Swimmer of the Year each season.

In 2002 while at Cal, she became the first women to swim the 100-meter backstroke (long course) in under 1 minute. Coughlin was undefeated in 61 dual-meet races during her collegiate career.

At Cal, she set school records in eight individual events and as part of four realys.

Coughlin swam in three Olympics, starting with 2004. But she had her brightest performance at the 2008 Games.

At Beijing, she became the first U.S. female athlete in modern Olympic history to win six medals in one Olympiad, including a gold medal in the 100-meter backstroke, where she was the first woman to defend her title in that event.

Coughlin had won four medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics, including gold in the 100 back and 4x200 free relay. At her final Olympics, in 2012 in London, she earned a bronze in the 4x100 free relay, giving her 12 career medals, matching Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres for the most by a U.S. female athlete.

She was a three-time Sullivan Award finalist as the nation’s top amateur athlete, broke 35 American records, and was a two-time winner of the Honda Award for swimming and diving.

A Bay Area native, Coughlin, 37, is married with a younger daughter.

Other Cal greats previously inducted into the Bay Area Hall: Jackie Jensen, Joe Kapp, Craig Morton, John Ralston, Jeff Kent, Sam Chapman, Kevin Johnson, Pete Newell, Pappy Waldorf, Don Budge, Helen Wills, Helen Hull Jacobs and Walter A. Haas Jr.

Coughlin is joined in the 2020 BASHOF class by baseball Hall of Fame Rickey Henderson, former Giants manager Bruce Bochy, football player Bryant Young and two-time Olympic sailing star Paul Cayard.

All five will be honored during induction ceremonies on May 11 at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco.

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