What do hundreds of athletes with super-hyped metabolisms eat ahead of the most important competitions of their lives? If you ask Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin, it's probably not the food found in the Olympic Village.
"It's not the best," the eleven-time Olympic medalist tells Us Weekly of the fare while laughing. "It's good for cafeteria food but…good for cafeteria food…"
Food produced en mass is a change from the norm for the 29-year-old athlete, who maintains a full garden at her Vallejo, Calif. home in addition to a coop full of chickens named Tara, Sookie and Lafayette after characters of True Blood!
"They're my Easter eggers so they lay blue-green eggs. And I have Madame Croque and Chuck, and they lay my brown eggs," she explains, adding that she won't eat the chickens (just their eggs) "because I named them!"
As for making the adjustment from farm-to-table fresh food, the 5-foot-8 champion backstroke specialist admits, "It's difficult. I'm not going to be able to pick salad greens off of the back of the hotel." But she's also quick to add that harvesting her own food sources isn't just about the nutritional aspect.
"It's part of my routine and it's something to distract me from swimming and get my mind off of it," Coughlin, who has been married to Ethan Hall, 33, since 2009, tells Us. "My husband makes fun of me because I'll just stare at the vegetables. When I'm brushing my teeth in the morning, I'll go out in the garden and evaluate what's getting eaten by the critters, what's growing and what's not growing."
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This article originally appeared on Usmagazine.com: Swimmer Natalie Coughlin: The Food in the Olympic Village Is "Not the Best"
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