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Olympic gold medal swimmer Natalie Coughlin, center, poses for a photograph with children at the Tibetan Community Center, Wednesday, March 27, 2013 in Richmond, Calif. Coughlin toured the center, spoke about her experiences competing in the Olympics, and answered questions from the audience. (D. Ross Cameron/Staff)

Being a 12-time Olympic medalist in swimming tends to dominate a resume, but Natalie Coughlin is much more.

Nutritional guru, quintessential California girl, Berkeley Bear, broadcast personality, first-rate cook, urban farmer, environment lover, excellent dancer (check her appearance on "Dancing with the Stars"), model and amateur photographer.

Born in Vallejo and now a resident of Lafayette, Coughlin is among the most successful athletes in any sport to come out of the Bay Area in decades.

Now 30, Coughlin picked up her 12th Olympic medal at the 2012 Games by swimming a qualifying leg for the 4x100-meter freestyle relay team, which took the bronze.

In Coughlin's second Olympics, Beijing in 2008, she became the first American female athlete to win six medals in a single Games. Coughlin won the gold medal in the 100-meter backstroke. She also won a silver medal in the 4Ã--100 freestyle relay and bronze medals in the 200-meter individual medley, 4x200 freestyle relay and the 100 freestyle. She won a silver in the 4x100 medley relay.

These days, Coughlin has traded in her grueling training schedule for more eclectic pursuits.

She loves to cook and grow fruits and vegetables at her home in Lafayette. She travels widely, appeared in the 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue and teamed up with LensCrafters (she endorses stylish eyeglasses rather than corrective surgery).

Coughlin stays in shape with yoga and Pilates and is a big sports fan. She roots for the Raiders, so not everything has been sunny in her life lately.

To keep up with Coughlin, follow her prolific tweets at Twitter.com/nataliecoughlin for news about Berkeley, sports, tan lines, cooking and farming and whatever else strikes her fancy.

On March 24, she tweeted: Swiss chard, kale, radishes, carrots, beets, herbs, strawberries, tomatoes, squash & peppers are easy to grow. :)