WALNUT CREEK -- Genealogists spent months looking into the family history of Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin.
To the surprise of no one, her bloodlines are awash in red, white and blue.
Coughlin's roots in the country go back to shortly after the arrival of the Mayflower. Mary Mettler, the research coordinator who dove into the swimmer's gene pool, told Coughlin that it was "amazing" that both parents were 13th-generation Americans. Mettler also noted that many of her ancestors were instrumental to the success of the country's early colonies.
"It's inspiring," the 12-time medalist said upon hearing the news. "Being an Olympian, that's one of the motivational things for us -- that we represent our countries when we compete. That's pretty cool."
Coughlin joined A's general manager Billy Beane and heavy metal drummer Tim Alexander as celebrity guests at "Their Roots Are Showing," a fundraiser for the California Genealogical Society and Library.
Research on the guests began in April and was kept secret until the celebrities took turns on stage Saturday. That's when they let the genealogy out of the bottle.
Coughlin learned, for example, a ninth-great-grandfather named James Parker helped found Groton, Mass., and then commanded its forces when the town was attacked by Native Americans during King Philip's War.
"Capt. Parker was courageous. He was tenacious. He was resilient. And he defended his town when it came under attack," Mettler told Coughlin. "He persevered and convinced (citizens) to come back to Groton. They rebuilt the town and it flourished again, thanks to his leadership."
Parker flourished, too. He was deacon of the church, commanded the military and was elected to the town's government 27 times.
At age 78, he got married for a second time. At 80, he fathered a baby girl, proving that strong swimmers have long run in the Coughlin family.
"That's crazy. At 80? I have a couple more years to go," she joked.
Four other Coughlin relatives helped found Hartford, Conn. There is a monument in the city bearing their names.
Coughlin's great-great grandfather, Henry Bohn, was dispatched on an orphan train out of New York in 1891 and he wound up with a family in Illinois on a four-week trial basis. That placed him, in essence, at the beginning of the foster care system in the United States.
Coughlin said she is also proud of being one-quarter Filipino. Her maternal grandmother, who was at the event, was born in the Philippines.
Beane, who followed Coughlin on stage, was impressed.
"Actually, I feel a little self-conscious," he said. "Natalie's family founded the country, defended the country and then she made them proud. Maybe you should have had her last. I don't think I can top that."
Alexander, the 48-year-old drummer for the rock band Primus, has a late-blooming interest in his family tree. He said he was 30 before he even knew the identity of his real father.
Now, Alexander knows that some of his relatives were distinguished brass workers in Litchfield, Conn.
"That makes sense," Alexander joked. "I've spent my whole career in metal."
Follow Daniel Brown on Twitter at twitter.com/mercbrownie.