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Golden Girl: How Natalie Coughlin Fought Back, Challenged Conventional Wisdom, and Became America's Olympic Champion Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books (April 18, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594862540
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594862540
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #582,374 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This story of professional swimmer and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Natalie Coughlin personalizes an athlete's strife on her way to the top, her fight against those predicting her fall and her internal struggles against illness, injury and the pressures of the sport. Perhaps "the most talented woman swimmer of her generation," Coughlin found herself facing questions from the press like, "How does it feel to dishonor your country?" following her harsh defeat in the 2003 FINA World Championship preliminaries-brought on by illness-that immediately preceded her Olympic victory. Tracking her progress from college on, the book has a scenic, nonlinear organization that makes it a bit confusing, but includes fascinating behind-the-scenes stories of Coughlin's coach Teri McKeever, her competition, her actor/football player father and his twin, and the training strategies involved in making a world-class athlete. Rich in detail, this a dramatic and humanizing portrait of an iconic American athlete.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

MICHAEL SILVER, a senior writer at Sports Illustrated, is a highly respected sportswriter and coauthor of several bestselling sports memoirs. He lives in Northern California.

NATALIE COUGHLIN has built a reputation as the most versatile, dominant swimmer in the world. Seizing five medals at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens--two gold, two silver, and one bronze--Natalie's performance is considered the best in Olympic history by any American woman.


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Customer Reviews

This book really helped me gain perspective on my children's swimming and my own!
Seaside Swim Mom
In the end, it did leave me with a bit of a tarnished view of Natalie, which is a bit disappointing given the title of the book.
D. Greene
Too bad that probably won't happen (if at all) until she disappears into anonymity (which I guess will be soon).
solaola

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Keith Fung on July 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a former collegiate All-American swimmer, I found Silver's book to be illuminating in many ways. While the writing style is a bit forced at times (for drama's sake), it is overall an interesting read and an honest look into the inner workings of competitive swimming.

I found the willingness to criticize established swimming tenets (and people) refreshingly honest, and to the Silver's and Coughlin's credit, they never try to pass of any of the asseratations as fact but always as opinion. Certainly, this has irked many online reviewers who are naturally protective of their coach and/or training style, but this is one of the few books which actually say publically what many of us in the sport have felt for decades -- we are overtraining and burning out our swimmers, particularly our sprinters.

Will this be an interesting book to a non-swimmer? Probably so, and mostly for the controversy mentioned above.

In particular, I find the Natalie-bashers' strategy confusing. If you disagree with her opinions, fine. If you feel it's so off-based, then why worry about it?
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By K. Vern on January 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Based on the other comments, I thought this book would be a litany of complaints by Natalie. I assumed she would really bash her old coach. Instead, he is mentioned mostly in the context of the difference between his training philosophy and that of Teri McKeever. Ray Mitchell occupies part of a chapter. This leads me to believe that those who are outraged must not have taken the time to read the book.

That being said, I thought the book was more about the Cal swim season with a focus on Natalie and McKeever. It was a fascinating look at a different approach to swimming - focus on technique, workout variety and team building. As one of the many burned out former age groupers who swam lot of 10K+ workouts, I think the whole swimming world should celebrate that coaches such as McKeever and Salo are willing to try something new. Natalie and the Cal swim program are proof that there is more to swim training than piling up yardage. This is really inspiring. I used to worry about whether I was doing the right thing by introducing my children to this sport. This book has helped to re-ignite my love for competitive swimming.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By GT on November 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book to find out about Natalie's swimming career and how she was able to achieve success in swimming and her Olympic accomplishments. Instead I found the writer, Michael Silver, writing more about the coach, McKeever and the other swimmers under McKeever's tutelage. There is not much about Natalie in this book but rather more is written about the others around her. I am extremly disappointed in this book and would not recommend it if you want to read about Natlalie's life and swimming career.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By m.a.r.i.l.y.n on June 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's hard to fill a biography when your subject hasn't reached the quarter century mark, so I'm not surprised to find a lot of filler in this tome. You would think Silver - a former Sports Illustrated writer who has co-authored books with Dennis Rodman and Jerry Rice - was getting paid by the word, with the amount of space he dedicates to Natalie's coaches (past and present), teammates, rivals and family. Yes, those things should be present since they're part of Natalie's world and shape her outlook. However, when I repeatedly get several pages about Teri McKeever's recruiting methods, and the individual dramas the Golden Bear swimmers are experiencing I begin to think the title should be pluralized. We're no longer reading about a person or even a swimmer/coach pair; we're getting the life story of the entire aquatic congregation.

Natalie becomes a supporting character in what is supposed to be her book, with the notable exceptions of when Silver expresses a somewhat creepy fascination for her (whenever they meet for lattes), or when he's explaining why Natalie is ALWAYS right: Natalie chooses a school her parents don't like: she's right; Natalie feels she was over trained at Terrapins: she's right; Natalie blows up at McKeever over swimming the 200 back; she's right. Natalie breaks the rules and physically strikes out at her teammates during a training exercise: she's right; Natalie nearly gets the team disqualified because of a superstition: she's right. I dare say that if Natalie committed a felony, Silver would detail why she was right.

So therein is the problem: the book doesn't focus on Natalie nearly enough, and when it does, it's so worshipful of everything she does it's off-putting. As a reader, I felt I was drowning in her superiority.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By MEG on August 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be a great read about a swimmer who overcame issues to win 5 Olympic medals. As the mom of two swimmers on a less serious, more recreational, swim team, I can still understand all the pressures she felt.

It appears the negative reviews are from Terrapin families, because I did not find Natalie to be self-absorbed, whiny, or any of the other negative attributes given to her by the one star reviewers.

Natalie took time out of her busy schedule three years ago to spend an afternoon at our swim club to motivate our swimmers before their biggest meet. I plan to have my 14 year old and 11 year old read "Golden Girl" to learn how she became an Olympic star.
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