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Friday, October 12, 2012
Natalie Coughlin on swimming with sharks

By Lynn Hoppes

Natalie Coughlin
Natalie Coughlin has spent a good part of her fall working with her sponsors, such as LensCrafters.
NEW YORK -- Just a few months removed from the Summer Olympics, 12-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin still hasn't slowed down.

"This week, it's Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and back home in the San Francisco area. I want to be home with my husband and family as much as possible," said the 30-year-old, who has three gold, four silver and five bronze medals. "It's all about packing and unpacking mostly from September to November."

On Thursday, Coughlin, who wears contacts while swimming, partnered with one of her sponsors, LensCrafters, as lifestyle expert to help spread the word about eye health -- specifically for athletes.

"Sponsors allow me to continue to compete. In swimming, we don't make money competing," said Coughlin, who has competed in three Olympics. "Most athletes make their money through endorsements. And the great partnerships allow me to pay the bills to pursue my dreams."

Playbook had a few minutes with Coughlin to talk about life in the water and out.

Did I hear you just came back from swimming with sharks?

"I wanted to do it my whole life. Living in the San Francisco area we have a lot of great whites. A friend of mine was swimming in Guadalupe, Mexico, so I decided to do it for my 30th birthday with my husband. We went three straight days diving. It was absolutely amazing. I wouldn't call it a vacation. It was an experience. It was so intense. I can't wait to do it again."

Another favorite White Shark pic from my Guadalupe Island trip. Awe-inspiring, magnificent creatures. twitter.com/NatalieCoughli…

— Natalie Coughlin (@NatalieCoughlin) September 13, 2012
You're from Lafayette, Calif., a small town outside San Francisco. Are you a city girl or a country girl?

"I like it all. My home is in a rural area. I raise chickens and I have a garden. We have wildlife. It's so peaceful. But I do enjoy coming to the city. I'm pretty blessed that I can get to San Francisco in 20 minutes, but it's still a million miles away at the same time. It's the best of both worlds."

I assume your garden helps you eat healthy. Is that why you want to write a cookbook?

"I have some good ideas. I just haven't gotten it together yet. I'm not a chef. I'm just someone who likes to cook. While being an athlete, your diet shouldn't be different from other people. Healthy food can be delicious. That's my idea for a book. I know that some athletes can eat McDonald's but I feel sick when I eat fast food. Indulgence for me is a fantastic meal and a great glass of wine."

With 12 Olympic medals and a host of others, where do you keep all of them? Have a "woman cave?"

"I don't really have them displayed. I have some photos up in the office. Mostly artistic photos. I also have art I've collected from my travels."

With all this stuff outside the water, does that mean you're done with swimming?

"No. I'm still going to compete. I don't know if I'm going to try for one more Olympics. Four years is a really long time away."