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Interview With Olympian and Dancing With the Stars Contestant Natalie Coughlin

Natalie Coughlin: From the Olympics to DWTS

Last season on Dancing With the Stars, we saw gold medal gymnast Shawn Johnson win gold, and this year we're watching Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin compete on land.

She made it through the first week, dancing a salsa with Alec Mazo and wowed us last night with her quick step. Although busy dancing and rehearsing, Natalie took time out of her day to answer a few questions on topics ranging from Pilates to her opinion on the ban on high-tech swimsuits.

To learn what Natalie has to say, just read more.

FitSugar: I have read that you do Pilates. How does this method of exercise help your swimming? Since it is somewhat dance-based, do you think it will help you on DWTS?
Natalie Coughlin: Pilates is an awesome cross-training exercise for any sport because it focuses on functional movement. It relies on strength along with flexibility, which is perfect for both swimming and dance. My two favorite pieces of equipment are the Balanced Body Exo Chair and Pilates Arc. I personally own both, and they make a nice addition to my home gym.

FS: I loved your "I'm a runner" piece in Runner's World. Do you still run regularly? Do you ever participate in road races? Were you able to run before your wedding ceremony?
NC: My first and only road race was the H2O Audio Surf Monkey last month, which was a 5K run on a mixture of sand, cobbled rock, and pier. It was so much fun, although I had no idea how to run on sand or cobbled rock! A few days before my wedding, I got a little overzealous with my running and ended up straining my right obliques, which forced me to take a bit of a break. Oops! I still love running, but I'm currently spending five to six-plus hours dancing every day, so I'm taking a break. I don't think it would be a good idea to add any unnecessary stress to my feet or legs. 

FS:Your swimming career has spanned two Olympics, and you're planning to compete in 2012 — how do you maintain focus in training over those four-year periods?
NC: My focus is constantly evolving. I took three months off immediately following the Athens Games and returned to competition with a series of two-day meets throughout the world. The short format of the meets along with the world travel kept me motivated and interested in swimming. After Beijing, I needed a much longer break both mentally and physically because I have been competing for 21 years now! Dancing With the Stars is providing me with an amazing competitive outlet in something so different than my sport. 

FSWhat's your favorite core exercise?
NC: I use the TRX suspension system for strength training and I absolutely love the atomic push-up because it's a killer exercise that works your entire core and upper body. 

FS: Is your running playlist different from your swimming playlist? If so, how?
NC: Nope! They're usually the same, but it changes depending on my mood. It can be anything from pop, rock, alternative, to hip-hop . . . and H2O Audio's new Interval lets me listen to multiple playlists in the water or while I'm out on a run.  

FS: Swimming can be hard on the skin and hair. What are your go-to beauty products postswim?
NC: Oh dear! I love products . . . Pureology for my hair, Kinesys sunscreen for my face/body preswimming, Palmer's Cocoa Butter for my body post-swimming, and Oil of Olay SPF 15 for my face. 

FS: How do you feel about the ban on high-tech swimsuits?
NC: I think it's a good idea because our sport can now get back to the swimming and eliminate the distraction of "who are you wearing?" Eliminating zippers and legs is strange because both have been a part of many of the suits for over a decade. Either way, I'm happy. 

Photo copyright 2009 ABC, Inc.

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