Irvine High School freshman Amanda Beard is headed to Atlanta, the first 14-year-old to make the U.S. Olympic swimming team in 20 years.
Beard finished more than a second faster than Kristine Quance to win the 100-meter breaststroke final at the Olympic swimming trials Thursday.
Beard's winning time was 1 minute 08.36 seconds, which was more than a second faster than her preliminary swim Thursday morning. Quance, who was disqualified for an illegal stroke in Wednesday's 400 individual medley, finished second in 1:09.72. American record holder Anita Nall took fourth with a time of 1:10.66. The top two finalists qualify for the Olympic team.
Beard, who trains with the Irvine Novaquatics Swim Club, was a little tight before her preliminary race in the 100 breaststroke, said her coach, Dave Salo.
"She seemed just a little tense, but I had complete confidence in her and I knew she could make it to the top eight," said Salo, who noted that Beard had not shaved before the event. "After she swam in the morning, she went back to her hotel room and shaved and she was pretty upbeat."
Salo said later in the day, before she had to swim in the finals, Beard came up to him and told him she felt great. "I knew then she would make it."
Beard still has the 200-meter breaststroke to swim Sunday. But Salo said he's confident that Beard will do well in that race too. "It's her best event. And she seems to be having a good meet."
Lisa Jacob of Mission Viejo just missed an Olympic team spot, finishing third in the 200 freestyle in 2:00.65. She missed second by .03. Amber Wines, a senior at Santa Ana Valley High, finished seventh in the 100 breaststroke final with a time of 1:11.93.