We sat down with our Brand Ambassador Natalie Coughlin to chat about success, her extensive swimming career, the importance of young people playing sports, and of course, resiliency. Here is what she had to say.

What do you think has most contributed to your success?

I think the biggest contributor to my success has been my ability to focus on many details for long periods of time. Many people view swimming as the quiet solitude of swimming to be monotonous, but I disagree. Being mindful and present during several-hour sessions of training is very difficult and something that requires a lot of practice. As I began to hone this skill, focusing became easier and easier. I saw the benefits of this intense focus in training as well as in competition.

What value is there to young people playing sports?

It builds confidence. It teaches the value of goal setting. It requires patience. It is a physical outlet that can help with stress and anxiety. The benefits are endless.

Your goals don’t always happen on the timeline that you set out. Sometimes you achieve them much faster than you anticipated. Sometimes it takes longer. Sometimes you don’t achieve them at all. It’s the relentless pursuit of those goals that really matters.

How did being in sports affect your confidence and development as a young woman?

The sense of accomplishment after pursuing a long-term goal and achieving it is one that is second-to-none. It builds your confidence and allows you to dream bigger and bigger.

What lessons did you learn from being involved in sport that you’ve applied to other areas of your life?

Your goals don’t always happen on the timeline that you set out. Sometimes you achieve them much faster than you anticipated. Sometimes it takes longer. Sometimes you don’t achieve them at all. It’s the relentless pursuit of those goals that really matters.

How would you empower young girls to stay in male-dominated sports?

If you love that sport, go for it! I trained with all men for the last four years of my swimming career. I was 80 pounds and 10 inches smaller than my main training partner. I loved being pushed by my male teammates who were naturally bigger, stronger and faster than me. When I would beat them in training I would relish those victories. I used the opportunity to train with people who were better than me and learn as much as I could from them.

How have your career priorities shifted throughout your life? How have you adjusted and balanced these shifting priorities?

When I was training for the Olympics, swimming was the number one priority. Now that I’m a mom, my daughter is my number one priority. While I have lofty goals in my career, my focus isn’t solely on myself anymore. It’s a difficult balancing act that has its challenges.

You made the career switch from swimming to the food industry (like your cookbook and winery). What advice would you give someone who is thinking about a career transition?

The same passion, resilience and tenacity that allowed me to be successful in sport has helped in my current career. I have to keep in mind that like sport, my goals have their own timeline and I need to be patient. Fortunately I knew that sport wouldn’t last forever and I prepared for the next steps.