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US Olympic Swimmers Coughlin, Phelps Target Gold in Beijing


Two American swimmers are setting their sights on making history at the Beijing Olympics. Natalie Coughlin and Michael Phelps are each eyeing a record number of gold medal wins in the coming days. Coughlin is hoping to add six gold medals to the two she won four years ago in Athens. Phelps, who is competing in his third Olympics, is hoping to break the record of seven swimming gold medals set in 1972. VOA's Roger Hsu has the story of these two Olympic athletes in their own words.

"Being a swimmer, the Olympics are really our biggest stage and it's something as a young girl I always dreamt about," Natalie Coughlin, U.S. Olympic swimmer said. "When I started swimming I was six years old and that was the time that Janet Evans in 1988 was winning all her gold medals, so that's what I watched on TV and that's what I aspired to be."

U.S. Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps recalls, "Sydney [Olympics] I was 15 and not really knowing what I was doing at all, I had no clue what was going on. Then going to Athens, I was a deer in the headlights, I have no idea what was going to happen, what to expect," he said. "I think having gone through all that has allowed me to relax more going into this Olympics. I am going to have fun"

Coughlin says she has been focusing on her training.

"I am not in school, all I have to do is focus on swimming now, and I'm really taking charge of my training regiment and I added a lot more of Pilates, a lot more weights, more running," she said. "I feel like I am really focused going into this one more so than I was last time. The fame comes in waves, after the last Olympics, there were a couple months where it was a bit overwhelming. It was humbling but it's a bit overwhelming but then it disappears after a while."

"I love what I do," Coughlin said. "I am a professional athlete, my job is to get up every morning, go swim, go workout, stay fit. I am in California, so I am out in the sun everyday. I know that I am very, very lucky."

Phelps adds, "No, I probably will go one more, but I will not swim past the age of 30. That is a direct quote and I will stand by that. They are tough goals, I feel like I can achieve them so that's why they are my goals. There are two people who know, it's myself and Bob [my coach]. We are working together to get there. My mom doesn't even know what my goals are."

"I am very excited about going to China," Coughlin said. "I haven't been there yet, but my parents went on a tour of China just a few months ago and they loved it. It's such an interesting place and a different place from anything I know and I am really looking forward to seeing it."

"If you are ever in the Olympics village it's one of the happiest times," Phelps said. "It's a dream come true for everybody and not only for the athletes but every individual country is behind their athletes, it's a happy time for everybody."