Swim Star

Three-time Olympic swimming champ Natalie Coughlin, who’s racked up 12 medals, talks about the recent launch of her new activewear line, Natalie Coughlin Collection by O’Neill 365.

Spotlight // Kathryn Romeyn // 08/27/12
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Natalie Coughlin. Photo courtesy of O'Neill 365. View all 2 images
Natalie Coughlin. Photo courtesy of O'Neill 365.
Pieces from the Natalie Coughlin...

How do you wind down from something as intense as the Olympic Games?
It’s really hard. Last night was the first night I didn’t have anything planned. My schedule’s been so crazy for so long it was weird…kind of nice, but very, very strange.

You’re about to celebrate your birthday with a girlfriend beach/surf trip. When did you start surfing?
When I was about six years old. Before the 2004 Olympic Games I had a pretty close call in Pacifica, CA, and I kind of gave it up because I didn’t want to hurt myself doing my hobby. But being that the next Olympics are four years away, I think I have time to have some fun and enjoy surfing.

How did your relationship with O’Neill start?
A year and a half ago they mentioned to me the possibility of working with them on an activewear line. They were looking for someone who does all the things I do: hiking, running, yoga, Pilates—it just seemed like such a perfect fit.

Was this your first time designing clothing?
Yes, and there’s definitely a learning curve involved. I met with the O’Neill 365 team and had a vision, but in the beginning it was a lot of me pulling pictures and drawings and colors and learning how to articulate what I really wanted. It’s been really fun and rewarding—it’s so different from swimming! But I live in activewear—it’s my uniform, so I know exactly what I want to see.

What was your inspiration for the collection?
Being from California I have a very California style so I like fitted items and things that are somewhat Bohemian but classic at the same time. I have a very definite style that I think shows in the line.

How did you go about choosing fabrics and silhouettes?
I love really flowy fabrics, so having wraps is really important to me, especially because I travel so much. And I’m an athletic build, which most swimmers and surfers are because of our broad shoulders, so I like to highlight the collarbone and neckline while covering the shoulders. We did great pullovers that accentuate the athletic build while still being very feminine.

Does this make you want to delve more into fashion design?
The more and more I work with O’Neill 365 the more excited I get about the upcoming line because it gets the creative wheels turning in my head. You start to see how you could bring everyday fashion into athletic wear, so it’s coming more and more into the forefront of my mind.

Any fun fall plans?
My husband and I just signed up for a great white shark dive in Guadalupe! It has been a lifelong dream of mine. It’s going to be our first real vacation after the Olympics and I’m so excited. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was like 10 years old. I can’t wait.

Get all the stats on this swim star in our pre-Olympic post!

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