Natalie Coughlin, appearing on the Today show in London on Monday morning, said she still could wind up swimming for a record 13th Olympic medal in Saturday’s 400 medley relay, but isn’t campaigning for it.
“I could . . . there’s a lot of factors that play into that,” she told host Matt Lauer. “We have a lot of options for the medley relay. I’m not trying to force myself onto the relay.”
Currently, Coughlin is not scheduled to compete in the medley relay. The decision will be made by U.S. coach Teri McKeever — who also is the coach at Cal and Coughlin’s personal coach — and her staff.
But it was McKeever and the U.S. assistants who made the difficult decision not to use Coughlin in the free relay final, despite the fact she swam well in the prelims.
Coughlin, the 29-year-old East Bay resident and Cal grad, has won 12 Olympics medals, tying Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres for most by an American woman. She collected No. 12 — a bronze in the 400 freestyle relay — without appearing in the final or on the medal stand.
“This is the first time I haven’t been on the medal podium myself. It’s a little strange,” she said.
Coughlin, who suggested last week she is open to returning to compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, stopped short of saying that’s a done deal.
“My thoughts change on a daily basis,” she said. “I’m going to continue to train and be fit. If I’m healthy enough to go for it, why not? My thoughts go back and forth on that.”
For now, she said, she is just going to enjoy London.