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Original Issue

Q&A Natalie Coughlin

The 23-year-old swimmer and five-time Olympic medalist is co-author (with SI senior writer Michael Silver) of Golden Girl

SI: Where are youin your preparation for Beijing?

Coughlin: Exactlywhere I want to be. Right after the 2004 Olympics I took a bit of a break. Iwas training, but I wasn't exactly excited to be training. Now I've got allthat motivation back.

SI: You won twogolds, two silvers and a bronze in Athens. The attention span of America isshort. How difficult is it to capitalize on a gold medal?

Coughlin: Therewas that sense of urgency that I needed to do as many appearances as possibleright after the Olympics. But so many of them were really fun. I didn't see itas pressure, but my schedule was incredibly hectic.

SI: What sportcould the average American beat you in?

Coughlin:Baseball. My hand-eye coordination is not very good. You lose that when you arein the water. Or running. We used to do sprints at Cal in front of the trackteam. It was so embarrassing. They were like, The mermaids are here! We're notvery good on land.

SI: Is it funbeing the daughter of a police sergeant?

Coughlin: When Iwas younger it was a lot cooler--I learned how to shoot a gun. Now I go homeand try to watch a Law & Order episode, and my dad won't shut up about how"that's not protocol."

SI: The oneathlete you'll stop and watch every time you see him or her on TV?

Coughlin: MikeTyson. I like the crazy athletes, the ones with tons of drama. We don't havethem in swimming, which is probably a good thing.

SI: Ever had aboyfriend who could outswim you?

Coughlin: Myboyfriend [former UC Santa Barbara swimmer Ethan Hall] can still beat me in thebreaststroke. But I've got him in every other stroke.

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