When Jamie Cail pulled herself out of the pool after beating Olympian Amanda Beard in the 200 individual medley at the Foothill Swim Games, two Fountain Valley swimmers asked each other, "Where did she come from?"
Cail, the Times Orange County girls' swimmer of the year, moved with her family from Florida last fall so she could train with Olympian Janet Evans' former Coach Bud McAllister.
The move was a dream come true for Cail, who considers Evans her hero. But she didn't know what to expect from her new high school, Marina.
"I didn't know which school was strong. I just ended up at Marina," Cail, 17, said.
Marina Coach Dave Carlson certainly didn't mind the addition of the nationally ranked junior.
"It was like a gift from heaven," Carlson said. "I had no idea who I was getting. Each time she would compete, I would just shake my head in wonder."
Cail's first big splash came at the Foothill Swim Games. There, she not only beat Beard in the 200 IM, but in doing so also broke Evans' 1989 meet record with a time of 2 minutes 4.70 seconds. That time eclipsed Evans' mark by more than a second. Cail also won the 200 freestyle and was named the swimmer of the meet.
At the Sunset League finals in May, Cail was again a double winner and set two meet records, including breaking the record of another swimming legend.
In the 500 freestyle, Cail posted a time of 4:47.48 during prelims to break Fountain Valley High's Debbie Babashoff's 1988 meet record by more than two seconds. In the 100 butterfly, Cail broke Westminster's Lisa Hadfield's 1987 league record with a time of 57.22.
At the Southern Section Division I finals, Cail beat Beard again in the 200 IM and won the event in 2:01.59. In the 500 freestyle, in which Evans holds the national high school record (4:37.30), Cail won in 4:44.69. It is the fastest recorded high school time so far in the nation this year.
Said Carlson: "She's a phenomenal swimmer. It got to the point during the season, that whenever she had a great swim, it wasn't a surprise anymore. I'm really looking forward to next year."