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5 Olympic Athletes Share Their Workout Secrets

Natalie Coughlin, Swimming

The only person who wasn't surprised when Natalie Coughlin raked in five medals (two golds, two silvers, one bronze) at her Olympic debut in Athens was Coughlin. "I expected that of myself," says the 25-year-old Vallejo, CA, native, who started racing when she was 6.

RECIPE FOR SUCCESS:
Coughlin is in the pool by 6 a.m., six days a week, for a two-to-four-hour workout with the UC Berkeley team (she graduated in 2005). She also walks or runs with her border terrier, SheRa, and logs three hours of weight training a week.

SECRET WEAPON:
"Pilates helps improve my stroke efficiency. It also cures me of bad habits, like slouching," says Coughlin, who works out on her own or at a local studio three times a week. "You want to have the same posture in the pool as you have on land."

EAT LIKE A PRO:
Coughlin shops organic, stocks up on just-picked produce from her local CSA (community-supported agriculture), and supplements with veggies from her backyard garden. "As a swimmer, I have the potential to put on a lot of muscle, so I have to be careful."

CHILL FACTOR:
"Craniosacral therapy" — a pressure-point therapy used to treat migraines and back pain — "is so relaxing, I feel like I've been hypnotized!"

CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT:
Kinesys spray-on SPF 30. Waterproof, of course.

WORD TO THE WISE:
To streamline your stroke, look down at the bottom of the pool. "It'll take all the tension out of your shoulders. Looking ahead to the end of the lane is the biggest mistake I see people make."

Originally published on July 21, 2008

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