Natalie Coughlin named the 2008 USOC SportsWoman of the Year

Jan. 24, 2009

Colorado Springs, Colo. - Olympian and U.S. National Team member Natalie Coughlin was named the 2008 United States Olympic Committee SportsWoman of the Year this week. Fellow Olympian Michael Phelps was chosen as the USOC SportsMan of the Year. This was the first time Coughlin has received the USOC SportsWoman of the Year honor. Paralympic swimmer Erin Popovich was also named the USOC Paralympian of the Year.

'The performances of American athletes at the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games were absolutely awesome, capping an unprecedented year of success for USA Swimming,' said Chuck Wielgus, the Executive Director of USA Swimming. 'To have three swimmers honored with this prestigious award speaks volumes, both about the tradition of excellence in American swimming, and about their individual dedication, talent and drive. USA Swimming takes an immense amount of pride in our athletes, and we congratulate Erin, Natalie and Michael, as well as their teammate Nastia, on this well-deserved recognition.'

Coughlin made history in 2008, becoming the first American woman in any Olympic sport to win six medals in one Olympic Games. In Beijing, Coughlin set five American records and one Olympic record. She won a gold medal in the women's 100m back, becoming the first woman to win back-back gold medals in the event, claimed two silver medals in the 400m free relay and 400m medley relay, and earned three bronze medals in the 200m IM, 100m free and 800m free relay. Over the course of her career, Coughlin has won 11 Olympic medals in the 11 Olympic events in which she has competed (5 in Athens and 6 in Beijing). In November of 2008, she was named the Female Athlete of the Year at the USA Swimming Foundation's Golden Goggle Awards.

'Having two swimmers selected by the USOC as the SportsMan and SportsWoman of the year during the Olympic year, is quite an honor for our sport,' said Mark Schubert, USA Swimming's National Team Head Coach and General Manager. 'Michael's performances were historic and unprecedented and Natalie led our women's team by medaling in every event. We could not have had better leadership in Beijing.'

The USOC SportsMan and SportsWoman of the Year awards have been presented annually since 1974 to the top overall male and female athlete from within the USOC member organizations. The team award was added in 1996. Winners are selected from the individual female and male Athlete of the Year and Team of the Year nominations of the National Governing Bodies for the Olympic, Pan American and Affiliated Organizations within the U.S. Olympic Movement.

Coughlin joins female swimmers Shirley Babashoff (1974), Kathy Heddy (1975), Tracy Caulkins (1978, 1984), Sippy Woodhead (1979), Janet Evans (1989), Amy Van Dyken (1996), Jenny Thompson (1999), and Katie Hoff (2005) as USOC SportsWoman of the Year award winners.

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