Angela Coughlan

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Angela Coughlan
Personal information
Full name Angela Denise Coughlan
Nationality  Canada
Born (1952-10-04)4 October 1952
London, Ontario
Died 14 June 2009(2009-06-14) (aged 56)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Height 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)
Weight 56 kg (123 lb; 8 st 11 lb)
Sport Swimming
Stroke(s) Freestyle

Angela Denise Coughlan, O.Ont. (October 4, 1952 – June 14, 2009) was a Canadian swimmer. At the peak of her competitive swimming career from 1968 to 1971, she was the best Canadian female freestyle specialist, going undefeated in freestyle events at Canadian meets during that time, as well as breaking a world record and 13 Canadian records. As part of the Canadian national swim team, she anchored the 4x100m freestyle and 4x100m medley relay teams, and earned both individual and team relay medals at the 1967 Pan American Games, the 1968 Olympics, the 1970 Commonwealth Games and the 1971 Pan American Games. Named Canadian Female Athlete of the Year in 1970, she retired from competitive swimming in 1972 at the age of 19. Part of her post-competitive career was spent as a swim coach and mentor to younger swimmers.

Early life[edit]

Angela Coughlan was born in London, Ontario before moving to Burlington, Ontario, Canada at the age of 7,[1] where she attended Elizabeth Gardens Public School and M.M. Robinson High School. While still quite young, she showed early promise as a swimmer, and was willing to set aside everything in order to practice.[1]

Competitive Swimming[edit]

Coughlan qualified for the Canadian national swim team in 1966 at the age of 14, and first competed for Canada at the 1967 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, where she won a silver (4x 100m freestyle) and three bronze medals (200m freestyle, 400m freestyle, 800m freestyle).[2]

At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, she swam in four individual events as well as the relays. Despite fighting a stomach ailment,[1] she qualified for the finals in all four individual freestyle events, finishing 7th in the 100m, 200m and 400m, and 6th in the 800m.[2] She earned a bronze medal as a member of the 4x100m freestyle team.[1]

At the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Scotland, Coughlan earned a gold (100 m freestyle), two silvers (200m freestyle, 400m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle) and a bronze (4x100m medley).[1] For this effort, she was named the 1970 Canadian Female Athlete of the Year[1] and Canadian Female Swimmer of the Year.[3]

At the 1971 Pan American Games in Colombia, she earned a gold anchoring the 4x100m medley, and three silvers (4x100m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle).[2]

In addition, she won 23 Canadian championships and swept all Canadian freestyle events from 1968 to 1971. During that time, she broke one world record and 13 Canadian long-course freestyle records.[2]

Retirement from swimming and later life[edit]

Coughlan retired from competitive swimming in 1972 while still a teenager.[1] That same year, her home city of Burlington opened a new swimming facility attached to her high school that included an indoor 6-lane 25-metre swimming pool. It was named the Angela Coughlan Indoor Pool,[4] an honour that embarrassed the shy 19-year-old.[1]

She spent much of the 1970s as a swim coach before becoming a massage therapist,[1] and was a familiar sight at competitive swim meets for the next 20 years.[5] She married twice and had three daughters.

In recognition of her efforts in the pool, Coughlan was inducted into the Ontario Aquatic Hall of Fame in 1992,[6] the Order of Ontario in 1995,[3] and the Burlington Hall of Fame in 2008.[1]


She was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2005, and succumbed in 2009 at the age of 56,[1] only days before she was to be recognized at the annual Celebration of Significant People Concert in Hamilton, Ontario.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Angela Coughlan". 2009-12-28. pp. 1–3. 
  2. ^ a b c d Thierry, Nick. "Angela Coughlan Passes Away". Worldwide SwimNews Online. Retrieved 2009-06-19. 
  3. ^ a b c McNeil, Mark. "Honour comes too late for Coughlan". Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved 2009-06-19. [dead link]
  4. ^ "Angela Coughlan Indoor Pool". City of Burlington Parks & Recreation. Retrieved 2009-06-19. 
  5. ^ "Olympic swimmer Angela Coughlan Passed Away". Swim Canada. Retrieved 2009-06-19. 
  6. ^ "Ontario Swimming Hall of Fame". Swim Ontario. Retrieved 2010-08-14.