Her Teammates Had No Doubts She'd Make It

TIMES STAFF WRITER

About 1,800 miles from the Natatorium pool at Indiana University in Indianapolis, about 10 of Amanda Beard's Irvine Novaquatics teammates gathered Saturday at the home of Robert Buck in Laguna Hills to watch one of their own compete at the Olympic trials.

Fascinated, they watched Beard's victory Thursday in the 100-meter breaststroke on a delayed broadcast on NBC.

Even though they already had heard about Beard posting the fastest preliminary time in the 200-meter breaststroke earlier Saturday at practice, Beard's teammates never doubted the 5-foot-3, 93-pound Irvine High freshman would win that event too.

Beard won the 200 breast final in 2 minutes 26.35 seconds. Jilen Siroky, also 14, finished almost two seconds behind, in 2:28.23 to take second.

Beard's teammate Steve West, who missed an Olympic team spot Wednesday in the 100 breaststroke where he took fourth, said Beard's double victory has pumped him up for today's races. The Huntington Beach swimmer has one more chance to make the U.S. team by taking first or second in the 200 breaststroke.

"It's a big boost when a teammate has a great swim," West said. "When we do good, the others feed off of it."

Beard had already secured a spot on the U.S. Olympic team with her victory in Thursday's 100-meter breaststroke, which she finished in 1:08.36. Beard is the first 14-year-old to make the U.S. swimming team in 20 years.

Earlier on Saturday, Beard had the fastest qualifying time in 2:27.71. Quance, who was second to Beard on Wednesday, was second in 2:28.97.

Novaquatics Coach Dave Salo, said he never doubted Beard's chances. "I think Orange County flexed its swimming muscles the last couple of days, with Janet winning and Amanda winning two events," Salo said. "I think the county is coming back with top swimmers."

Said Salo after Beard's victory, "She's pretty exhausted, but we'll be back tomorrow to watch her teammates and root them on. And then it's back home in training for the Games."

But to Beard's teammates, her double victory was based on the simple fact that she is talented.

"She's just so good. We [the team] all knew Amanda would win," said Krista Little, 12, of Irvine.

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