By Jacie Scott | LSU Student
Athletes dream of representing their country in the Olympic Games. LSU junior swimmer Amanda Kendall may be just months away from realizing this jackpot.
The 21-year-old Fairfax, Va., native must swim a top-six time in the 100 freestyle at the 2012 Olympic trials this summer in Omaha to qualify to represent the U.S. in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
"I'm sure every young swimmer says, ‘Oh, I'm going to go to the Olympics,' and it's definitely always been a dream that would be amazing if it came true. Now that I'm realizing it's in reach, it's just unbelievable."
Kendall, who began swimming at the age of seven, splashed onto the scene after a stellar sophomore season at LSU, earning several accolades, including a NCAA First Team All-America honor. She broke individual school records for the 100 and 200 freestyles at the 2011 SEC championship meet, with times of 47.90 and 1:44.95, respectively.
"(In my) freshman year, people come in and you just have no idea what to expect. So for my sophomore year, I was ready for it," said Kendall. "My times dropped a lot that year and it was just exciting to see that big of a drop."
The following summer, Kendall qualified for the U.S. Nationals Meet, where she finished seventh in the final round at 55.08, a top-50 in the world time. The USA Swimming and the United States Olympic Committee took note of her performance and chose Kendall to represent her country in the 100 freestyle at the Pan America Games October 15-21 in Guadalajara, Mexico. It made Kendall realize that her dream of competing in the Olympics was in range.
Her performance followed suit with previous endeavors, gaining international notice and earning four gold medals each in the 100-meter freestyle relay, the 4 x 200 freestyle relay, the 4 x 100 medley relay and the 100 freestyle.
The latter gave Kendall her first individual gold medal after posting the seventh best time of 54.75, a lifetime best and only one place off an Olympics qualification. For her events, the 100 and 200 freestyle, the top-six times are taken for the Olympic team.
"Basically, I need to make the A final top 8. Once I'm in, I can get my hand on the wall top six and London here I come, which would be awesome."
Today, Kendall is fueling her body better and working to improve her times. Her current focus is on the SEC Championship meet held Feb. 15-18 in Tennessee.
"I'm just taking it one day at a time and not trying to focus on it too much because I have to prepare for SEC and NCAA meets, first."